Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Today, I'm 33.

My mom says I look 26.
I love my mom.
Secretly, I hope she's right.
But it really isn't important to me.

I expected to be on a solid path by now.
Instead, I'm less sure than ever
of what exactly it is
I'm supposed to be doing here.

I want to say I'm okay with that.
Secretly, I'm not.
Having clear goals is very important to me.

I feel too young to be where I am in life.
I feel too old to fit in with other people my age.
I feel just the right age to be what I am:
Different from anybody else I know.

That can make me feel lonely.
It can also make me feel like a superhero.
Daily, how I feel about that changes.

I went to lunch today at my favorite restaurant.
They know my name and what I'm allergic to.

I got a special birthday dessert, chosen just for me.
I had some fun company too.

Most of my day was just a regular day.
That doesn't bother me at all.

Dinner out was wonderful.
The eighteen million facebook greetings were heart-warming.
But the best part was a decadent bubble bath

with organic Mexican chocolate

by candle light
in my bathtub.
Followed quickly by a surprise bottle of sweet, girly, wonderful wine.

And now, I'll duck back out of the blogosphere for a bit longer. Thank you for all of the help with my pictures!
I'm almost better. I'm almost ready to keep moving. I'm almost ready to take on whatever is next.
After all, I'm 33 now.
I should have this all figured out, right?

One Last Time

OK. I have four favorites. I'm done doing everything I want to do to them and, for the most part, you guys picked all my favorite edits anyway. For one of the columns shots, the vote was split, right where my own opinion was split, so I combined the images and I think it works nicely. Here are my four favorites:




I can only submit two images, so, if you could only pick two, which ones would you pick? I have a couple of suspected favorites, but I like them all!
Now...I need to go enjoy the rest of my birthday!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Few More...

Here's the other column photo. A few options, post-processing:

1) the original image

2) tweaked a little bit

3) black and white

4) lots of drama

Which one(s) do you like best?

Ever Indecisive,

Google, The Gimp & Me

A little Googling revealed a world of new information to me regarding photo editing with The Gimp - my super-cool, open-source, photo-editing software of choice. That I don't really know how to use.
So, armed with a tiny bit of new knowledge and a fistful of poorly-exposed photos, I set out to see what I could do.
Here are four versions of the one photo I am pretty sure I will upload to the contest website. Help me decide which edit is best!

1) The original image:

2) Just a nudge in the right direction:

3) Lots of contrast - but is it too much?

4) Black and white - and maybe a little lifeless:

Whaddaya think?
I'll try to put a few more asking-your-opinion posts tonight and tomorrow. I'm far enough into this project to have lost all sense of judgment. Seriously.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Picture Overload

Um, hi.
I'm not, you know, "back" or anything. Sorry about that. This summer's schedule doesn't seem to leave me much more room than the last school year did for introspection and thought, and I need those things so desperately right now. I'm hoping that a few of my obligations will fade away over the next few weeks and give me just a bit of breathing room so I can really grab hold of what is important to me - the things I need to keep amid the major cleaning-out that is going to happen soon. It has to happen soon. So, I'm trying to keep down the things I've put down for a little while longer, until it all catches up with itself. If that makes any sense at all.
But, I did something so super-fun this weekend that I just had to, had to share it with you. Mindy and I participated in a local Photowalk. She wrote about it in more detail than I'm going to bother about, since you can just clickety-click on her name right there to read about it, see her photos and check out her new blog. Essentially, this was an organized, world-wide photography event where professionals and amateurs (though, I think it was mostly professionals, honestly) gathered in urban areas to take pictures together for a couple of hours. I was really nervous and a little intimidated, since my camera is basically a fancy point-and-shoot - no extra lenses or name-brand camera straps, no fancy bags and tripods - you know, just a couple of buttons and, well, my trigger finger.
But it's also a contest. People submit their photos in the hopes of winning prizes and such. I hadn't planned on submitting anything 'cause I looked at last year's flickr gallery and decided I could never come up with anything that good - you know, I like taking pictures and looking at pictures, but...wow. When I looked at the pictures I took, though, I thought better of it. "Why not?" I thought. I don't have too much hope of winning anything, but why not just submit something anyway? So, here are my favorites. For the most part, they are un-retouched. I am going to try and learn a little bit about editing this week, just to see what I can do to improve on what I already have here. Of course, editing can't help much with some of my rookie mistakes - a lens smudge on most of the photos by the Lake Mirror gate (though I understand it's actually "Mirror Lake!"), and having shot most of the two hours with my white balance set to compensate for flourescent light. Sigh.
But here are my favorites. By the sheer number of them, you can see that I am indecisive as ever!

(these pink things are the yucky snail eggs of an invasive species that is taking over our local lakes - especially Lake Mirror)

(the one above needs a little crop, right at the bottom, but I think it's my fave)

It would seem that I am in love with my macro lens and my zoom, huh? Also, it would seem that I can't decide between two or three shots of the same thing. Which one is best? Aaaagh! Help me narrow it down! Maybe, if we narrow it all down by a bit, I'll put up a poll for the favorites later this week...we shall see.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Sometimes, I am compelled to really open up and be honest here. I mean, really-seriously-embarrassingly honest. So, here goes:
Several things in my life have begun unraveling all at once. I feel a little bit like I'm knitting in a movie theater and my ball of yarn just went rolling down the aisle. It's a little embarrassing, but I'm going to have to get up in front of everybody and chase it down.
I'm going to lay low for a little while, at least blog-wise.

I plan to play lots of Mario Kart and Guitar Hero with my kids, pick my camera back up and try to take some decent photos and I'm going to do a little emotional housework, spiritual housework and, well, maybe some actual housework too.

I mean, there might be a post here or there about what I'm doing on my birthday or something really great that I made or whatever, but for the most part, I'm ducking out of the online world for a bit.
I just need to wind it all back up and I'll be fine.
I'll see you soon.

Hugs & kisses,
<3 me


It seems to be harder and harder to catch my son on camera. He hides in dark, indoor places, obscuring his face with remote controls and screens of varying natures.
With apologies for the poor quality, I am still going to post the pictures I have, just so you can get an idea of what a big guy he is now.
No longer will there be themed birthday parties. My days of thinking up Star Wars-related games and super-cool science birthday party experiments for a big bunch of boys are over. This year, Drew just wanted to have his couple of best buddies spend the night and play video games alllll night long.

And that's pretty much fine by me. I'm getting too old for all of this birthday party nonsense! I did hang up a "Happy Birthday" sign in the living room and I made them a big "treat bag" to share - instead of the little ones you usually send kids home with from your house. It was a bag filled with candy and Little Debbie cakes, some toy airplane puzzles and sticky frogs and a few confetti poppers. Oh yeah...and chips in a tube. What boy doesn't love chips in a tube? We put small-sized drinks in the fridge, sent Emma to a friend's house for a sleepover (so she didn't have to endure all the manliness) and left the boys to themselves.
I'd like to say that we slept, but the boys didn't, so we couldn't. Sometimes I really wish I had a bedroom door...

By morning time, only one of the guys had slept at all, but they were already gaming by the time I got out of bed. The requested breakfast of 12-year-old champions? Mom's homemade cinnamon rolls - with icing, please. Then we headed over to my mom's house for some swimming. And it rained. It rained all morning long, but fortunately, there was no thunder or lightning.

So they all had a great time getting wet from above as well as swimming. Then, of course, on to pizza for lunch.

And a cookie cake for dessert.

The afternoon was spent enjoying more unlimited gaming privileges - that is something that pretty much only happens at Christmas, on a birthday or as a reward for straight A's, so it's really exciting. So exciting that Drew decided not to nap.

He wanted to sit in the man chair and play a game that we had rented (hint: the surest way to keep this type of boy occupied is to tell him that what he has is "for a limited time only").
And after no sleep, we went out for a steak dinner with the family, then to Grandma's for cake (marble cake, of course, for my boy who has serious trouble making decisions - chocolate or vanilla? uh....both!)

and presents!!

This was pretty much Drew's dream birthday. I didn't insist on giving him educational things. I let everybody give him video games and Wii accessories and Chris and I even got him the holy grail of boy gifts:

His life is now complete.

Change is happening rapidly with this guy. He is suddenly growing up faster than I can even comprehend. He's on the phone more often (I was wondering when that would happen) and fielded his own birthday calls on Tuesday. He's so responsible and capable - he constantly amazes me with what he can accomplish on his own. This kid? I would have had such a crush on him when I was 12. He's that great. And I have the humbling privilege of introducing him to the the world around us. Can I just state for the record that it's such an honor? 'Cause it really is.

Mary? This is really freaking me out - hope it freaks out Kris too: we were 12 when we met. Yikes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

With A Bang

We had the loveliest Fourth of July weekend, and if I don't tell you about it now, it will be jumbled together with posts about Andrew's birthday. And when I try to post too much at once, nothing is thorough. Just nothing. And I do like to be thorough.
So. We slept in. I know that's not such a big deal to most of you, but it is to us. I'm not saying that we didn't stay up late, but there is something nice about sleeping until it's honest-to-goodness light outside. Also, there's something that makes you panic and have heart palpitations in that first moment when you're waking up and realize that it's honest-to-goodness light outside and you might be late for something. But then, once the adrenaline subsides, you can just sink back into your pillow and let the morning pass by slowly.
For a little while.
And then you realize that the reason you were up late was a failed attempt at a Fourth of July dress and a new shirt for your daughter, and thankfully you finished the shirt, but you still need to make a dress for yourself from scratch and make biscuits and strawberry shortcake and special butter for the corn. So you heave yourself out of bed and feel very sorry indeed that you slept so long.
But I did finish my dress and I really like it. I like it so much that I'm going to take it apart later this week and fix a couple of things on it - which, I know, sounds all wrong if I liked the dress, but if I didn't like it, I would have just chucked it. I was a little inspired by this little top from Modcloth:

And I wound up with this cute-y cute little number:

What changes might I make? Well, let me tell you. I'm going to make it a little shorter, which I don't usually do, but I feel like the length detracts from its personality. And I'm going to mess around with the back. I did shirring on it with elastic thread so it's an easy, no-zipper fit, but I didn't account for the fullness of the front...
you know what? You guys probably don't care that much about the details. Nevermind.
I made Emma a cute little shirt out of the same fabric to go with....(drumroll, please)

The first skirt she ever made by herself! That's two bandannas, sewn together front-to-back and a simple elastic casing at the waist, which I ironed down for her, but she stitched and elasticized all by herself!

Once we were all gussied up, we headed over to my parents' house for a meat-and-fire celebration. I made my traditional strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits and the boys cooked up some burgers and yummy corn. We all ate waaaay too much and enjoyed every second of it, laughed ourselves silly and played a round of Balderdash.

Then, once the sun went down, we ignored the city fireworks display in favor of our own. We never have really bought much of that sort of thing on the fourth because we are always stuck in a crowded, sweaty and often rainy place waiting for the 15 minutes of fiery glory while being eaten alive by giant mosquitoes. But this year, it was decided that the young man in our midst needed to learn about the joys of making his own fire.
We started off small, with smoke bombs and snakes.

We worked our way up to sparklers,

and finished things off with June bugs and diamond cutters and other aptly-named bits of sparkly light.

The big finish? Oh, that was the Blazing Rebel - three straight minutes (just an estimate, mind you) of glorious, shooting fire. We still got eaten alive by giant mosquitoes, but I think we will all agree that the evening was immensely satisfying.

For the record, my youngest brother would like to be known from now on as The Blazing Rebel.

Today, I am busily making preparations to celebrate my big boy's birthday. He is turning twelve tomorrow. Sigh. The Terrible Teens are knocking at our door and I can only hold them off for this one last year.

Daily Bliss: licking the birthday cake batter bowl

Wake-up Playlist: Band of Horses, No One's Gonna Love You