Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ok, this is getting old

This solo parenting gig? It's getting old.
I'm tired. I'm tired of the constant food prep. Why do kids need so many meals every day, anyway? 

And all the cleaning. Washing dishes, washing clothes, cleaning counters and floors and butts, brushing teeth and hair (who am I kidding I never brush their hair), etc etc etc with the endless list that never ends because everything that requires cleaning only gets dirty and must be cleaned again. And again, and again, repeat forever and ever amen. 

I'm tired of feeling worn out and yelling at the kids for no reason (and, of course, then noticing the windows are open and our neighbors are on their porch so heard everything, and even tho I know they'd never judge it still just adds to the sucky-ness of the situation).

I'm tired of the lonely evenings and my cold bed.

I miss my husband/coparent/lover/best friend. Can I haz him back nao plz? 

And, I mean, it's not that things are going terribly or anything. We're doing ok, we're getting by. Honestly, I kinda think I've been kicking ass most of this summer (albeit my standards for what I mean by "kicking ass" are very, very low). It's just...yeah. It's getting old.

And sometimes just venting a little helps. 

Five more weeks to go...

Monday, July 29, 2013

inspired by my wild things {week 1}

I recently read an article with tips on how to feel more confident in your photography, and one of them was to look back at your work from several months or years ago and compare it to what you're producing today. Obviously, you'll notice big improvements in your skill and feel way better about yourself, right?

Turns out that can backfire. I look back at old photos and feel like if anything I've stagnated, or even slipped backwards. I feel like I've been in this weird place with photography for a while and I've been trying to figure out what's behind that, and I think I hit on it as I was editing these photos tonight-- I'm frustrated, like I'm hitting the limits of my skill/ability/equipment and don't know how to break past them. After nearly 6 years, I think I'm finally outgrowing my current camera and find myself wishing for features and dedicated buttons that it lacks. I import the files into Lightroom, and feel annoyed because I have a vision of what I want a particular photo to look like but don't know how to create that effect. I see so much potential in many of the shots, but don't have the skill or time to bring it out.

And that right there is at the crux of all this-- I want to learn and practice and grow and perfect, but can't find the time to do so (battle hymn of the exhausted parent, right?). So what happens is I end up rarely picking up my dslr, opting to use my iphone most of the time which is great and fulfills the basic desires I have for photography-- to capture the moments of life and create a beautiful record of them-- albeit in a much simpler way. Which, again, is really great for its simplicity and convenience, but I don't like feeling so detached from the very different kinds of images I can create with my big camera + computer.

Soooo....solution? I've been trying to seek out things to inspire me to shoot more, to at least get back into a groove and try to work with what I've got. I've tried a few things, including joining that blog circle which kinda helps but posting once a month is infrequently enough that I tend to forget about it. So then I thought of maybe trying a weekly challenge of some sort... and then I remembered You Are My Wild, the photo blog I've been kind of obsessed with the past few months. I squee a little inside every tuesday when I see a new post show up in google reader feedly, then wait till I have a chance to sit down and properly drool over view the photos on my computer because they are just breathtaking.

And then I thought, maybe I'll just copy that idea. Try to take and share photos of my guys once a week, as a push to at least get my camera out and get a little practice. They are, after all, what inspired my down this path to begin with.... Now let's see if I can keep it up....











Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The past few days have felt almost too good to be true. The weather has been amazing, after a lot of muggy heat (ok, so today it rained a bunch but whatever). The boys have been in (mostly) decent moods. Bedtimes have been fairly smooth and relatively painless, and my evenings have felt productive enough managing to keep up with dishes and laundry and all that fun stuff, and balancing that with running, or just sitting on the porch enjoying the coolness of the evening with a good book. Quinn's meltdowns seem to have been an intense but short phase, I'm sure they'll return and he still gets pretty upset every once in a while but he's his adorably mischievous self most of the time these days. We manage to FaceTime with Zach a few mornings a week, the chats don't last long before the boys get distracted but it seems to be really good for everyone to get to see each other if even for a few minutes. Now that my in-laws are gone I'm starting to use a nearby sitter for breaks with Q, and D spends a lot of time hanging out with his BFF down the street. I miss Zach, we all do, but other than feeling a little starved for physical affection it feels like this is all going so much better than I feared it might.

Beach day 
Gorgeous day at the beach a week or two ago.
Decompressing after a rough afternoon/bedtime. 
Post-bedtime decompressing on the porch with David Sedaris and some iced tea.
Rainy morning snuggled on the couch with my littles.
Watching way too much TV this morning, chose to enjoy the rare moments of peace snuggled up on the couch with these two rather than feel guilt over excessive screen time.

Part of me is just waiting for the other shoe to drop... but another part of me is starting to think we may actually get through this summer without any nervous breakdowns.

(...and I probably just jinxed myself...)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Running: an update

I mentioned last month that I took up running. I figured I'd take a minute now to expand on that.

First, some backstory- my main experience with running before now was having to run laps in high school, which sucked. I hated it. So I just always thought I hated running. My mom was a runner, as far back as I can remember she would go for a jog most days. I saw how much good it did for her, but I just figured it wasn't my thing. I've always tried to have a fairly active day-to-day lifestyle but sucked at the actual "regular exercise" thing. I've started (and then abandoned) various exercise plans over the years (hiking, walking, using machines at the gym, etc), always starting out strong then letting excuses win over my motivation. And then I had kids, and since then my exercise has basically just been trying to keep up with them.

A couple years ago Zach started running again (has done it off/on over the years), and watching him and a couple other friends get into it got me thinking about trying it out. At the time the logistics of trying to find time to run, and what to do with the kids while I did so, seemed too complicated. I was also way too bombed out of my mind with sleep deprivation to consider any new activity that would rob me of the little precious energy I had. But, the seed was planted. As someone who tends to let excuses get in the way of exercise, it's hard to deny the appeal of a sport where all you need is a pair of shoes (and some even question that) and head out the door. Not that I actually did anything about it, for a long while.

Then a couple months ago my sister was visiting and I mentioned to her in passing that I'd maybe possibly been thinking of one day maybe trying to start running, maybe. The next day she'd worked out a plan for us to walk/run most mornings after dropping D off at school, and taking Q with us in the jogging stroller (which we got years ago for walking on trails). The plan was to go for a walk for a full hour, running for as long as we (ie. me) felt up for it. At first we just ran for about 10 minutes in the middle of our walks, trading off on pushing the stroller. We did that together for the rest of her visit, close to 2 weeks.

Turns out, I don't hate running. The first several weeks were tough... The soreness I didn't mind so much, it made me feel accomplished. What sucked was the fatigue, the way running kicked my ass and left me feeling even more tired and crabby than usual. I tried to balance pushing myself while being mindful of not overdoing it (and then feeling like a zombie the rest of the day). Thankfully, once I got past those first weeks things got a lot better.  The past month I've mainly been running in the evenings, after the kids are in bed (another reason it's been great to have my in-laws here the past month- free babysitting!). That's a really nice time of the day this time of the year-- the light is gorgeous, and it's usually cooled off enough to be fairly pleasant. It helps that whether I run trails or through the nearby neighborhoods, the scenery around here is gorgeous. I've really enjoyed the time outdoors by myself, though a few times recently I've gone running with a couple friends and loved getting that time to chat (and be distracted from running itself and having to talk myself into keeping going). I'm also noticing the stress-relief benefits, how I really do often feel better, more relaxed, after a good run.

My main goal starting out was to be able to comfortably run for a good 20-30 minutes a few times a week. I'm there now, running up to 3 miles at a time, 2-3 times a week. I'm not sure what my goals are from here out, honestly I just want to maintain this pace for the rest of the summer/fall. My in-laws left yesterday so for the next couple weeks I'll need to do a bit more planning/juggling to find the time to run, but still totally doable. A couple people have asked me if I've thought about running any races, and I haven't really. Right now I don't have any interest in running half (let alone full) marathons, though I suppose I could see myself signing up for a 5k or 10k. We'll see. Mainly I just want to stick this out, actually keep up with it long-term rather than having it fall by the wayside after a few months like what usually happens.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pinch Me - my sweet summer concert & road trip experience

Several months ago I caught wind on twitter of Guster, Ben Folds Five, and Barenaked Ladies going on tour together this summer. I may have squealed out loud. I mean, three of my all-time favorite bands playing TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME? How often does THAT happen? (turns out they toured last summer, too, but I'm usually totally out of the loop on these sorts of things so had no idea).

Figuring I had a snowball's chance in hell of actually going to a show, I looked up the show dates anyway. As it turned out, they would be playing in Boston in mid-July (though only BNL and Ben Folds, no Guster sadly). Ever hopeful, I started scheming possible ways I could still go...and luckily, the stars aligned. My in-laws (who'd been planning to visit around this time anyway) agreed to be here for the concert date and watch the kids, and my awesome buddy Jeremy agreed to come along with me. I was nearly jumping out of my skin with excitement as I bought our tickets. 

As back-story: I don't remember when or how I first got into BNL, it feels like I've kinda loved them forever. I saw them twice in concert back in college, once with Zach my freshman year and another time a few years later with my BFF Danyelle. The shows were amazing, unique and funny and just so much fun. I love how their music covers everything from the utterly absurd to deeply touching musings. I haven't listened to them quite as much the past few years, but many of their songs will forever hold a very special spot in my heart and I'll probably always remember the words. 

As for Ben Folds, I have my friend (and seriously talented singer/songwriter) Brian Hudson to thank for that musical introduction. One day sometime late in college, he and I were wandering around Waterloo Records in Austin. He pointed to The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner and asked if I had that album. I said I did not (I'd heard of Ben Folds but didn't know much about his music). He then insisted that my life would not be complete without owning this album. He gave me $2 (the only cash he had on him) to help me buy it, and instructed me to go home and listen to it right away. Of course, he was totally right. It quickly became one of my favorite CDs, and Ben Folds/Five joined my list of favorite musicians. Unfortunately, I'd never gotten a chance to see him play live.

Until now. 

The show was Tuesday night. We left early that afternoon to drive into town, had a fun little adventure of trying to find the right parking lot and subway/bus route to get to the waterfront. I was grateful that Jeremy shares my appreciation for building in extra time for travel as all that took longer than expected, but we still got to the BofA Pavilion on the early side. Ben Folds Five played first, and as expected it was awesome and amazing. A lot of the people around us were talking and just not really paying attention which I must say really baffled me. But, whatever. Their loss (didn't disturb me much). Then Barenaked Ladies came on, and by then everyone was into it and standing and dancing and singing along and it was awesome and wonderful. I wish they could have each played a longer set, yet by the end of the show (11ish?) I was tired and hungry and might not have lasted that much longer anyway (is this what getting old feels like?). 
Boats. And bit of rainbow. 
Boats, and a glimpse of the rainbow, at the waterfront
Pre-concert rain shower and rainbow. 
Squee! Arriving at the pavilion
Me & J (my local BFF) waiting for the show to begin. 
Me & J waiting for the show to start
Oh you know, just a regular ole tuesday night.... #benfoldsfive #bestnightofmylife 
Ben! Folds! Five!
You can't tell at all but that's Barenaked Ladies.
Much crappier pic of Barenaked Ladies

We made our way back to the car and then to Jeremy's friend, Jen's house where we crashed for the night. It was late and she had to work the next day so she went to bed right away and we didn't get to chat with her much, but Jeremy and I stayed up for another couple hours talking about life and past loves and basically had ourselves a good old fashioned slumber party. We slept in late the next morning (a rare treat for us parents of young kids), walked to a nearby spot for brunch, and eventually made our way back on home. The whole thing was just a really great trip, ~24 hours of pure awesome. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

week four

Tomorrow marks four weeks since Zach's departure, leaving seven more to go. Things have gone relatively well so far...though it's feeling like a few cracks are starting to show through. Quinn had been pretty easygoing until I went away for the weekend. When I got back he started having a shorter fuse, getting upset over things that before didn't bother him much. Cut to the past few days, and he's been having these intense crying-and-screaming meltdowns several times a day. It's not anything that unusual for a two-year-old, and especially knowing he's gotta be missing Zach. But, it's exhausting. Today I felt like I was navigating a minefield, trying to be so careful with what I said or how I handled every situation in an effort to avoid triggering another meltdown. Donovan's also been in an "off" mood lately, and lemme tell ya there's nothing quite like both your kids being inconsolably upset at the same time.

All of this would be easier to deal with if I weren't so damn tired all the time (hello, #1 most common parenting complaint). Every day I vow to get to bed earlier, then every evening I stay up late again trying to balance to-do lists, chores, and a bit of self-care. Ok, and wasting time online, I do a good bit of that, too. One of the crappier catch-22s of adulthood, at least for me, is that the more frazzled/tired I feel the harder it is for me to be efficient and conscious with how I use my free time, which tends to leave me feeling even more frazzled. It's a vicious cycle, and should help explain to those of you who know me in person why I so rarely have my shit together.

My in-laws have been here the past few weeks and been a HUGE help. I've hardly had to worry about dinner or wash dishes while they've been here, and I've gotten to do some fun one-on-one stuff with each of the boys while they hung out with the other. It's thanks to them that I was able to meet up with Zach at the Cape a few weeks ago, and next week they'll watch the boys overnight while I go with one of my best friends to see two of my all-time favorite bands play together (I seriously cannot tell you how excited I am about this trip). After that, the in-laws leave and I'll be on my own for a couple weeks before my mom arrives next month for her visit. I'll check in here if we survive till then.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

cm blog circle: shallow dof

I didn't even think much about this month's theme since I so often shoot with a shallow depth-of-field anyway. Which, of course, meant posting day totally snuck up on me. I already posted my favorite recent shallow dof photos for the month, but did find a few new ones to showcase today:

Untitled Untitled Untitled

Next up in the circle: Stephanie Powell


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