Thursday, March 28, 2013

farewell, my beloved


Last week I packed this baby up and shipped it to a friend, and I just feel like I need to stop for a minute and pay homage to my beloved "nifty fifty" (bear with me as I get all sentimental and sappy over a hunk of glass and plastic). This is the lens I learned on, the one that took almost every picture of D as a baby and young toddler. It allowed me to discover my love of prime lenses and shooting "wide open." This lens lived on my camera for the first 2-3 years that I owned it. It is a fantastic lens, especially considering the price. Unfortunately, since then it has been replaced by my 35mm lens (wider focal length = much easier to capture both kiddoes in the frame) and so it has spent the past couple years sitting in my camera bag, hardly used. I resisted selling it for a while, mainly for sentimental reasons (I also have a sigma 50mm macro lens, so I even have another lens in the same focal length), but then the right situation came up and I figured it was time to pass it on so it can go to a good home and hopefully get some use again, rather than just gather dust with me. So goodbye, sweet little lens. You've done me good.

Monday, March 25, 2013


On our way home from the maple farm on Saturday, we stopped by the Simon Pearce shop/restaurant/workshop in Quechee, VT. It's one of three workshops where you watch them making the handblown glass pieces sold in the stores. Zach had gone before so when he suggested we stop by and check it out all together I thought, "Ok, this should be neat." I don't know what I was thinking or expecting, but this was really, really friggin cool. D and I were both transfixed watching the glassblowers at work, turning red-hot molten glass into vases, drinking glasses, etc. (We were also glad to get in and out of the shop without the kids breaking any of the very pretty and very expensive things on display...)

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Getting a taste of Vermont yummyness

Over the weekend we visited Sugarbush Farm, a maple syrup and cheese farm in Woodstock, VT. Zach heard about them having an open house this weekend, and we've slacked off on doing these sorts of "New Englandy" things lately so we packed up the kids and drove the half hour or so to check it out, joined by friends Jody, Ethan, and baby Sam. The drive and the farm were, of course, adorable. I'm probably way over the limit on how many times I'm allowed to use that word to describe things up here, but there ya go.

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We toured the sugarhouse where they boil the tree sap down to maple syrup. They had this massive vat of boiling sap, and this teensy little silver container to hold the syrup that comes out-- apparently it takes 40 whole gallons of sap to make just 1 gallon of the syrup. Whoa. Just this past week a guest came to Donovan's school and showed them how to tap the maple trees in the play yard to collect sap so D informed us that he already knows ALL ABOUT getting the sap, but I think he enjoyed seeing a bit of how they turn it into actual maple syrup.

The cute, old-timey way to collect sap with the metal bucket... They had these on most of the trees by the farmhouse, but back in the woods you could see they had most of the trees rigged up with this plastic tubing connected to several trees, leading into a big tub to collect sap from them all at once. Not as cute, much more efficient.
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Boiling sap.

We then went into the sales room where they had tastings of the different grades of syrup (which we learned vary due to the way the trees produce the sap depending on the weather and time of year-- lighter amber/flavor early in the season, darker and richer as it warms up), their cheddars, and a bunch of different jams and jellies. The boys loved the syrup tastings, of course, but spent most of their time playing outside on the farm grounds.

(I love how these pictures look like the trees in the background got desaturated...that's 100% natural. I didn't touch the colors there.)
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Tractors! Snowmobiles! Oh my!

It was definitely a fun adventure, worth the trek. On our way back we stopped by the Simon Pearce store in Queechee to watch the glassblowers in action and I got a lot of cool pictures of that, too, but I'll save those for another post...
(Full set of pictures here on flickr)

six word sunday: The Dartmouth Green, all in white.

The Green, all in white.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

list blogging 3.21.13

Baker library clock tower.

listening to
: lots of The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, and Mumford & Sons. Spotify is like my new best friend.

reading: I just finished Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. It's basically "Little Red Riding Hood meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Some of it I really liked, other parts kinda bugged me. I found it worth reading all the way to the end, so that's something. And it's been nice to devote a good chunk of time the past week or two to just reading, for fun.

feeling: happy, tired, worried, all at once. It's been a good week, a good spring break, and yet there's never as much time as you think there will be.  Q was a mess all through dinner and bedtime tonight, and times like those also make me dread the summer and wonder how I'm gonna manage solo parenting for 10 weeks. And then I think about how lonely it'll be to not have Zach around, how much I'll miss him as my husband and best friend vs just as a co-parent. Then I make myself stop thinking about it, because worry seldom results in anything more that grief.

wanting: more sunny days like today. Even if it's not that warm yet, sunshine is always nice.

needing: to finish our 2012 photobook. I'm making progress, slowly but surely... got through the month of  September the other day, so just 3 more to go. This book feels like it's been more grueling to get through that the others I've made, I think mostly because I tried out a new book template and I don't like it as much but can't bear to start over.

wondering: about making changes to this here blog. From small things like feeling bored with the template, to bigger things like the announced demise of Google Reader making me wonder about what other products Google might decide aren't worth keeping up anymore...and if Blogger might ever make that list. I've never felt I could justify paying for a self-hosted blog since I don't make money off it, but then again I pay for other services that I consider worthwhile (like flickr)... Just thoughts bouncing around in my head.

enjoying: evenings curled up on the couch watching Parenthood with Zach; watching my children get so excited over bringing home a new batch of library books; my red Sorel cozy boots that I almost returned but am glad I didn't because I kinda love them now; this photo blog collaboration; this open letter to parents of small children.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

happy equinox

Today is the first day of spring, and there are several inches of fresh snow on the ground.

We were supposed to get over a foot of snow yesterday, and everyone cancelled school and it ended up not being nearly that much but we did get a few inches. Part of me feels a bit annoyed-- it was nice to see grass again, and have the kids play outside at the playscapes without needing full-on water/snow-proof gear on, etc.  At the same time, fresh snow is kinda nice. I'm discovering that this late winter/not-quite-spring part of the year, with the slushy, half-melted snow and the drab, muddy ground exposed, isn't all that appealing. It's gotten cold again, too, and if it's gonna be cold it might as well be snowy, too, I guess.

I had to go to the store yesterday and I was dragging my feet about it, not wanting to get out in the still-falling snow.  Finally I headed out at the end of the day, and as I got on the road I felt that blah-ness melt away as I remembered just how gorgeous a fresh snowfall can make everything look. The trees, signs, lamp posts, even the power lines were all outlined in white, and with the cloud cover and daylight waning the world looked as close as it gets to real-life black and white.


We got a dusting more overnight, and this morning the sun was shining and it turns out that right now we leave the house for D's school at what must be the perfect Golden Hour time. I don't know what it is, if it's the snow, or something about the light here in New England, but the way the warm golden rays fall on the snow and trees and buildings, contrasting with the cool blue tones of the sky and shadows, is just utterly stunning. This really doesn't do it justice, but here's the view that greeted us this morning when we left the house:


Except about 100x prettier. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the drive out to D's school is just gorgeous, and this morning was no exception. I knew I couldn't pull off and take pictures along the way, so instead I tried to burn the imagery to my brain. I did swing by campus on our way back and snap a quick picture of the iconic Tuck building. 


By the time Q and I got home clouds were rolling in and the light was already changing, and it's still pretty when I look out the window but that magical quality brought on by the morning light has passed. But I was glad to witness it and enjoy it during our little morning commute. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Getting on my soap box about rape prevention

There's been quite a firestorm online lately about rape and rape prevention, much of it sparked by Zerlina Maxwell going on TV and having the audacity to claim that instead of telling women how to avoid getting raped we should be teaching men not to rape. A radical idea, apparently. It has been, honestly, pretty terrifying to witness the backlash, how incredibly angry so many people got at her for saying something that should be common sense, even sending her rape threats. It is terrifying to see how many people seem to feel entitled to do what they wish with someone else's body. To make such threats so casually. To honestly believe that teaching men not to rape is "useless" or a "lost cause" (forgetting that we've already done a lot towards lowering the incidence of rape, though we clearly still have a long way to go). 

My sister Criss wrote an excellent post on rape, rape culture, and misconceptions surrounding it (quoted below but do go read the whole thing. I can wait). Most people who balk at trying to "teach men not to rape" assume it's impossible because, well, you can't teach criminals who have no morals already! But there is so much that we take for granted or see as "normal" that is really not ok, and that's what we need to wake up to.
We're talking about the "nice guy" who tries for the third time tonight to rub his hands on his date's thigh, even though she has pushed his hand away every time and keeps inching away from him.
We're talking about the guy who tells himself she's just "playing hard to get" when she says no and pushes him away.
We're talking about the guy who thinks that because she didn't "affirmatively say no" (because she was too drunk to say anything), that's good enough and he can go ahead and have sex with her.
We're talking about the guy who looks at a girl who's passed out and thinks it's okay, that it's funny, to post photos and video of her online saying she's "so raped."
We're talking about the guy who thinks it's funny to make jokes about rape. And we're talking about all the guys who will jump in to defend that guy when he gets called out for saying, "Wouldn't it be funny if, like, five guys raped her right now?"
We're talking about explaining how all of these things create and perpetuate rape culture. How they excuse proto-rapist behavior. How they lead to rape scenarios, and to your bros encouraging you to act in rapey ways.

 Looking back on my dating years, yeah I remember guys doing quite a few things that at the time I chalked up to just normal guy behavior and now cringe thinking of how rapey they were. And those were "nice guys", respectable guys, not creepy or mean or forceful but just had been socialized to think it's ok to keep trying to push things till you convince the girl to say yes. Some of them probably realized what they were doing, others may be just as horrified to look back and realize the sort of stuff they tried to pull.

I look at my two boys and I don't want them to ever try to pull that crap on someone. I don't want them to think it's ok for any of their friends to do so, either. I don't want therm to think rape jokes are funny, or acceptable in any way. These aren't things that will just magically happen by virtue of them being "nice guys"-- plenty of nice guys do horrid shit. They need to know how hurtful those things can be, how important things like consent are, how serious rape is and not to ever take it lightly. That will only happen by talking openly and specifically about this stuff. We need to have these conversations.  That's part of how we teach people not to rape.

In reaction to all this, Maxwell wrote a post on 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape. Go read that one, too. This is really important stuff, and we don't have to wait till kids are teens to talk about this, we can set the stage now with our young kids. Consent is a big thing in our household-- no means no whether that relates to giving/receiving a hug or a kiss or tickling or just wanting to have some space away from everyone else. There are exceptions, of course (sometimes I have to change a poopy diaper or give medicine despite most definitely not having their consent) but we try to follow that rule as much as possible, and try to be respectful and explain why for the exceptions. I try to respect their bodily autonomy and ask them to respect mine. I really think (hope) that this will help set a good foundation for those more serious talks down the road.  I'm also trying to figure out how to talk about many of the images they see (like the magazine covers of nearly naked women prominently displayed in every store, sometimes right next to the childrens books) so they don't subconsciously absorb this idea of women as merely pretty/sexual objects to be looked at, or at least try to counteract those messages (anyone have ideas on this one?).  I really feel these are things that need to be talked about, not just once or twice as Big Embarrassing Talks, but as an ongoing conversation that lasts all through growing up (and beyond). I think that's our best bet for making a true cultural shift.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

sick days and road trips

Up, down, up, down, all around... that's the stuff life is made of, right? Saturday was amazing in all its sunshiney glory. Sunday, we all woke up feeling awful and miserable and all sorts of horrendous. A daylong marathon of Dinosaur Train appeased/entertained the boys, allowing Zach and me to semi-rest and try to recuperate ourselves. I had horrible visions of us spending most of our spring break sick and miserable, but thankfully the plague only lasted about a day-- by Monday we were most of the way better, and by Tuesday/yesterday D was able to go back to school and everything.

Back on an upswing, yesterday evening I went on a little road trip to Vermont with my hippie feminist SAHDad friend Jeremy (I know, he sounds pretty awesome already, right?). Another friend had told me about this Women Report from Abroad event by Dining for Women and Oxfam about success stories of foreign aid helping women and girls in developing countries. The talk itself was pretty interesting, with a couple of the interesting take-aways for me being 1) a shift in US aid from simply giving food or money to actually working with the people in the target communities in a more collaborative way and trying to solve the root causes for issues vs bandaid solutions, and 2) recognizing the need for accountability in aid work so that we can know the money is actually going where it's supposed to (eg. avoid fraud), and figuring out ways to make that happen.

So that was cool, though to be honest even better than that was the chance to have a few hours to just hang out and chat with a friend. I met Jeremy (and wife Jody, also awesome, along with their awesome kiddoes) a few weeks after we moved here last summer. Our kids hit it off, and so did we, and we've spent a lot of time together since then (indeed, there were probably some weeks in the fall when I saw more of them than I did Zach)... But it's almost always with our kids around. Which is great and fun and I love it, but as any parent knows it can be a wee bit difficult sometimes to hold a meaningful conversation when you've got your kids tugging at your legs or they're trying to smash each other with sticks or trucks, etc. So a few hours of uninterrupted adult conversation with someone whose company I greatly enjoy was, needless to say, very refreshing and quite a treat. I also got to see some Vermont countryside which would have been incredibly charming and adorable had it not been rainy and foggy and slushy. You win some, you lose some.

Then this morning Zach and I got to have a morning date, also sans kids, so that was also pretty great to spend some quality time with one of my other favorite people. We went to the King Arthur Flour bakery (my first time) and hung out enjoying some coffee/tea and yummy bread, then browsed the store and all their pretty and adorable baking goods and doodads and I wished I were more of a baker than I am. Maybe one day. I did get a scone mix that I think D will enjoy making with me, back when we would go on our Starbucks dates (we should really start that back up again...) he always loved getting their scones so hopefully will get a kick out of trying to make some ourselves.

So, the bought of illness aside, I'd say we're off to a pretty good start on our little family break here. Let's keep that going...

Saturday, March 09, 2013

yay sunshine

So as expected, after Tuesday's gloriousness it got cold again the rest of the week, even snowing a couple inches Thursday night... and then we had today. Sunny, warm, amazing today. It's nice to start the day by walking outside and thinking, "Wow, it's kinda too warm for this coat..."

We spent most of the day playing outside. I opened up some of our windows. Made myself an iced coffee. Broke out my toms from the closet. I love it, all of it, and so did the boys.

Sunny warm morning. #springawesomeness Welcoming spring weather by demolishing a snowman. 
Ethan & Donovan welcoming spring by destroying snowmen.

The world's chillest baby. 
Say hello to the world's most chill baby. 

Outside in shirts (and no pants, for one kid). Awesome day. So happy. 
Melting snow = PUDDLES! And thus begins Mud Play Mayhem 2013.
Puddles = irressistible Zach in spring break mode.
Zach getting in "spring break" mode.

I never used to categorize myself as someone whose mood was that affected by the weather. In truth if it's just me I'm quite happy to lounge indoors on a rainy/cold/snowy/whatever day sipping on tea or hot chocolate and just read a book or watch tv or whatever. Parenthood, of course, changed all that (as it does everything else).  I now have not one but two kids who are pretty active little dudes, and being able to go outside to play and burn off energy is much more important. Also, the option of outdoor playdates is so great because the greater space and freedom means they often last longer before devolving into chaos. So, yeah. We had a great time playing outside today and hanging out with friends. I will gladly welcome many, many more days like this one. 

Zach has one more assignment due on Monday but other than that it is spring break time, baby! You can see him above getting his lounge on. I'm greatly looking forward to two weeks of having him around for a change. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Oh how I've missed this

Today? Was kind of amazing. It was sunny and 40 degrees, which I realize isn't all that warm but it sure as heck felt like it. Around noon Quinn happened to notice Meghna, a girl who lives a few houses down from us, walking by our house with her grandfather and wanted to join her. So we spent some time playing out in the rapidly-melting snow with her and then went for a short walk around the neighborhood together. 

Quinn & a neighbor playing in the melting snow. Yay for sunny outdoor time. Out for a walk. A couple minutes after this pic he tried to slyly take her hand. She refused. Getting used to rejection early... 

After picking Donovan up from school the boys were having a snack and noticed Meghna on her porch so asked to go outside again-- we spent a good hour or more outdoors this afternoon, just pushing trucks and drawing with chalk and stomping through the leftover snow. And everyone else was out, too-- we watched a steady trickle as almost every family in Sachem went outside to play or even just for a walk.  After months of hibernating indoors, it was like the whole neighborhood was coming alive again. I saw and got to talk to friends I've hardly seen since the fall. 

Playing! Outdoors! Untitled I am *so* excited to return to the days of outdoor playdates and impromptu gatherings with neighbors.

At one point I was watching the boys playing on the sidewalk with their friends, watching so many other families outside enjoying the weather, listening to the birds singing in the trees, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the clear signs of spring. I've felt that longing for warmer weather, but it's not the warmth so much that I've missed... it's what comes with it. One of the things I loved so much about this place when we moved in, and through the summer and fall, was the way we could just go outside to play for hours at a time, how many other kids would be outside as well, how easy it was to meet people and make friends and run into each other for casual playdates without having to send 50 emails or texts back and forth trying to coordinate something together. I didn't realize till today just how much I have missed that. It also stayed light until after 5pm, and with us "springing forward" this weekend we're about to get even more daylight at the end of the day.  I think I've fared pretty well all through winter, dealt well enough with the cold and the darkness and the snow and ice. And I know it will still be cold for a while and there's still snow on the ground and they still needed boots and mittens and blah blah blah don't burst my bubble. But to be outside today and have it feel so much like those late summer and early fall days, to think of spring ahead and all that means... I just can't begin to describe how happy it makes me.

(I realize that talk of the weather has kinda taken over my blog, and it's what I write about almost more than anything else these days. Which I suppose is to be expected when you spend so long living someplace with no weather, then move someplace that actually has weather changes and seasons and stuff. I'm hoping the novelty will wear off once we've gone through one full cycle and then I'll be able to focus on other things to write about. Maybe.)

Monday, March 04, 2013

Are you sick of snow pictures yet?

We're kind of at this weird point of winter where it feels like spring is right around the corner, yet it's still cold and there's still a good bit of snow on the ground and it keeps snowing randomly...but it's too warm for the snow to actually accumulate. Today it was snowing literally all day long, but the sidewalks and streets stayed clear the whole time. However, I just got a new pair of snow boots in the mail today (end of season sales FTW!) so that pretty much guarantees that all the snow will melt within the next few days and then it'll be spring.  You're welcome.

We got a half-decent snowfall about a week ago, it was warm and wet and Zach whined a bunch about the sub-optimal quality of the snow and how it would all turn to slush and then melt too quickly.  Me, I liked it because the wet snow sticks better to the trees and branches and I think that looks really pretty. The varying preferences of the outdoor sportsman vs the photographer.











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