28 November 2011

The Echoes of hide and seek

The girls LOVE to play and hide and seek! They don't really understand how it actually works. Mallory often jumps out before we "find" her and shouts "here I am". Jillian has learned to hide but when we "find" her she says "I found you."! It's all very cute and sweet to see how they interpret the game. They'll have plenty of time to learn the actual rules but right now for them it's just plain fun.

Lately they've been playing with daddy while I clean up the kitchen after dinner. Hearing their sweet  giggles and voices while doing the dishes makes it a lot less like a chore. It's a simple game and really it's a simple time in our family. Our girls are 3 and 1 and all they want is to be with us, play with us, and laugh with us.

When you first have a baby EVERYONE tells you how fast it goes. Enjoy each moment...they grow too fast...you hear it all the time. While there are definite days when I am exhausted from meeting all the daily needs of young children, the trueness of these words is rarely lost on me.

Somehow knowing there will be a time when the family room is no longer filled with these tiny voices playing an after dinner hide and seek game allows me to remember each and every echoed "My turn to count." and "I found you daddy." as if I had completely forgotten of this memory.

To remember like you will one day forget sort of makes everyday the best one yet.



22 November 2011

The Joys of a family photo

This year I decided to do my own Christmas card photos.  Last year we paid an amazing photographer to do them and she did a fantastic job!! www.tiianorsym.com If you live in the Chicago area and you are looking for a family photographer be sure to check her out.

This year unfortunately it wasn't in the budget.  So I dressed the family up and off we went to a scenic location. I had high hopes! Both girls had slept well, just had a morning snack and appeared happy. I talked about the beautiful swans we were going to see in an effort to get them excited about the location.

Once we arrived the wind seemed to get exponentially stronger. Not having that much experience with my tripod it took me forever to get the camera attached to it all the while I was wasting valuable happy dispositions from the girls.  When I finally figured out how to attach the camera to the tripod the wind blew so hard it knocked the entire tripod with camera and fancy lens to the ground.  The lens was covered in mud! By the time I set up the shot and got everyone in place I was so frustrated.  With a 3 year old, a 1 year old, and a husband who was trying to go along with my grand idea I knew I had very little time to get the shots I had envisioned. I blew it, big time!  I literally took about 10 photos before I realized it just wasn't going to happen.

I never did get to see the swans.
Note to self: next year, I will pay for family photos!!

We packed the girls up and decided to try after naps, before sunset in our backyard. This time I did manage to get some decent shots. A little tip: I used masking tape to wrap Elmo around the tripod and told Jillian to look at Elmo, this ended up working for Mallory too. (even though at 3 years old she's capable of following the directions to look at the camera I think it made it more fun for her).

Here are our potential Christmas Card shots:

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Here are some SOOC (straight out of the camera) out takes!




07 November 2011

Reaching out

Have I mentioned how much I love Shutter Sisters!!  It's a photography blog that has given me so much inspiration,  I often see the photos featured and I long to be that good.  Not only are the photos amazing but the blog spots are truly inspiring, the writing is so touching and after hanging out on their I always leave feeling refreshed and ready to hone my skills even more in the quest to capture life as beautiful as their work.

This morning this post from their blog really hit me hard!    shutter sisters

Like so many others in photography I feel like I'm at a stand still with my progress.  I know that to improve I really need to reach out and ask for constructive criticism, share my work with folks who know how to critique and ask how I can improve.  I have learned so much from clickinmoms.com but I never really have jumped into the critique forum.  I am afraid.  I am afraid that the critique will cast an enormous shadow of doubt on my talent or lack their of..  Yet I know this is what needs to be done to get to that next level.  After reading this shutter sisters post this morning it really inspired me to be more of an active participant in the photography forums and submit my work for critique.  Reaching out and getting feedback is essential in the growth process.  Minus some work I've submitted for classes I've managed to avoid it thus far but I
know it's time.

"Progress always involves risks.  You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first."  ~Frederick B. Wilcox 

02 November 2011

Guest blogger

I've stumbled upon a couple of very popular blogs, think A-list type blogs that from time to time host guest bloggers.  I decided to be courageous and send in a couple of my blog entry's from the archives.  I figured I have nothing to lose and it might be fun to see my blog post on a high traffic blog as opposed to the 3 or so readers from my blog- one of which is my mom! (Hi Mom)

This one is about my feelings on education and it was written right after I had Mallory, it's called A Town With Clean Water.
The second one is called RIP Mr. Davis and Big Wheels and I have included it as a separate blog entry right before this one.

A Town With Clean Water

As I enter into this new stage of my life called parenthood, inevitably I cross paths with more and more new parents and young families. Along with a million other decisions that come with being a new parent is the decision of where to ultimately reside and raise a family. Time and time again I hear “Oh we just want a town with good school districts”. For as many times as I’ve heard this the absurdity of this statement really sets in. I mean doesn’t everyone want that? Doesn’t the single mom living in the inner city want that for her kids? Doesn’t the working class family living off a truck driver’s income want that? It’s like saying “We just want a town with clean water.” As if this were some unique criteria specific to their family. Wanting a good school district is a wish I believe every parent has for their children. Although it’s a bit premature Tony and I will one day think about schools for our daughter. We as public school teachers have no grand illusions about education in our country. We consider ourselves good teachers yet have taught in schools that many families would consider not “good enough” for their kids. We are aware of the unfair barometer used to measure what constitutes a good school district. For example, schools that have numerous bilingual students typically don’t have good test scores due to the racially biased nature of standardized tests. Therefore many of these schools fail to make AYP (Adequate yearly progress) a term the elite administrators throw out when boasting about the greatness of their district. Since we are or have been teachers in these schools that don’t measure up does that mean we aren’t good teachers? Heck I was the same pre-k teacher in the prestigious private school as I was in the inner city public school. Minus a few technological perks the kids received much of the same experiences. For the parents who dished out 16 grand to send their kid to the “better” preschool, it’s probably not what they would want to hear. Having said that, I’m well aware that the opportunities for both groups of children will be very different as the educational injustices unfold in their respective school lives. Even with good teachers the inner city children may have to overcome the challenges of learning in an environment with over sized classrooms, no text books, rundown buildings, dated technology, etc. Don’t both of these groups of children deserve the greatest advantages, the best opportunities? Of course I understand wanting better for our children but shouldn’t we want better for all children? I will try to remember with every decision we make for our daughters education (public or private, this neighborhood that neighborhood) there’s a family out there that doesn’t have the luxury of decisions when it comes to their child’s education. We live in a society where the unfortunate reality is that the quality of a child’s education is directly related to the paycheck mom and dads bring home. So I don’t worry so much about what type of school she’ll go to as I do about what type of world it’ll be for her when she grows up. My hope is she will one day live in a country where all schools are created equal. And where the saying “We just want to live in a town with good school districts” will sound just as outlandish as saying “We just want a town with clean water.”!

RIP Mr. Davis and Big Wheels

Here's my entry for a spot as a guest blogger on mamapedia.com
This is an old one from the archives but still relevant.  

The weather is turning cold and warm summer days are behind us.  The neighborhood children aren't playing outside as often and soon the streets will be filled with winter silence. So different from the warmer days of barbecue's, fire pits, and children laughing into the evenings.   As I observed many typical modern neighborhoods this summer it occurred to me that “playing outside” now-a-days is quite different than “playing outside” was when I was a child. Children of this generation have scheduled play dates, drive electronic Jeep-type-play vehicles, own $1000 swing sets, have parents that hover over and intervene when the slightest tiff takes place, play in fenced in yards, pretend to play house in plastic life size cottages, and have fancy sprinklers (with really cool spouts specifically designed for children to run through). Now, one would argue that I’m “generalizing” here, and although I probably am, by and large I do witness the aforementioned characteristics take place. This leads me to ponder over my own childhood days of “playing outside”. We lived next to a large field that was used for all the neighborhood kids to play running bases, capture the flag, kick ball, and Ghost in the Graveyard. On the other side of the field was Mr. Davis’s house. Mr. Davis was a cranky old man who lived alone and hated children. While we spent the day playing in the field, Mr. Davis spent the day yelling at us every time a ball would hit his house for fear it would break a window. Now, through out all my years of living next door to Mr. Davis and playing in the field we never even came close to breaking his windows. Looking back the yelling never really deterred us from playing there, after all we always thought “He didn’t own the lot, He can’t tell us what to do”! We spent many an hour planning our defense against mean old Mr. Davis...."This time we were actually going to tell him It's not his lot...." All the while our parents never really intervened. Can you imagine those shenanigans flying today? When we weren’t playing in the field we often were swinging on a old tire that was attached to an even older tree to make a swing, digging in the puddles and dirt to make “mud pies”, running through the rusty old sprinkler, and riding our big wheels. Every kid in the neighborhood had a big wheel and the entire block was our driveway. Big Wheels were our first ever taste of freedom. We created original games involving the big wheels and spent entire summers riding them. We didn't need five different choices of riding vehicles. We had the freedom to roam the street as long as we stayed on our block. Parents called us in by yelling for us out the door. Am I advocating we go back to the days of no helmets or seat belts, and rusty metal swing sets? Probably not! Also, there’s the “The world is not as safe factor”, where kids shouldn’t be roaming free like we used to anyway. I do however think a little of that care free spontaneity is lost on children today. Dealing with Mr. Davis on our own built character and we bonded as neighborhood kids. As I think about what "playing outside" will be like for my daughters I know they'll have acess to many cool places, toys and experiences that I never had. However I also know they'll probably never have the empty lots, the freedom of roaming the block, and the overall simpleness of childhood that existed back then. A part of me wishes they could know the feeling when 'conquering' Mr.Davis with a big wheel and some Bubblicious chewing gum was all a kid needed for the perfect day!

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