Saturday, June 30, 2012

2nd Annual Photography Challenge Contest!

Here are 20 of my favorite pictures from the challenge!  It was so hard to choose with so many amazing photos!

THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!!

These are the nominees for the contest.  Each will be captioned and then numbered, at random.  To vote, please click on your favorites in the poll.  It is on the left margin of the blog.

<======= Over there

You can vote for more than one picture if you'd like, I will set it up so that you may vote for one or all of them.  The voting will end at Noon MST, Saturday, July 7th.

Anyone who visits this page can vote, so get your friends to join!

The winner will receive two bottles of OPI nail polish!

Good luck!!!
1. Michelle Lumpkin, Purple Daisy

2. Alisa Lansdale, Wrapped in love

3. Jen Celusta, See my finger???

4. Vanessa Brookman, Arizona Sunset

5. Kim Lehman, Walk like an Egyptian

6. Tami Simon, In the palm of her hand

7. Ginger Park, Woodrow

8. Lisa Evans, Just Hitched

9. Brandi Greff, Curly

10. Cindy Hayes, Smiles

11. Jennifer Maidl, Hi-yah!

12. Homespooled, You are my sunshine

13. Emily Severin, Family

14. Brigette Rodriguez, Wonder  Wo-MAN

15. Lisa Weber, Strings

16. Terry Laidlaw, Skater Boy

17. Diane Haley-Joseph, Love & Marriage

18. Susan Lindgren, Roses

19. Laura Capra, Strength & beauty

20. Melanie Lambert, Up in the air

Summer School of Rock - The Opening Act

You're about to get schooled.

For reals.

Are you ready to rock?

This all began a while back when I realized that the only way my son was ever going to develop a firm understanding of the history of rock music was if I taught him.

Jack Black doesn't really hijack music classes, though it would be awesome if he did.

Then sometime last year, my husband the Scoutmaster was trying to teach his Den of kids about music appreciation for some requirement.  Basic stuff.  Genres of music.  Major artists.

There is more to the music world than whatever is in the ten song rotation on pop radio.  Honest.

We were both a little shocked to learn that most of the kids had no real grasp of music genres beyond pop, rap and rock.  Most of them couldn't describe what general criteria music fits into to get into each genre.  One kid had apparently only ever been allowed to listen to country.

Two of them had never heard of Bob Marley.  One wasn't sure who The Beatles were.  

Then there was my son.  He did good.  He made me proud, and yet he still had much to learn.

Formal instruction began, complete with music videos, lyrics and blasting The Wall in the van on the way to school in the morning.  

At some point, someone asked me about this.  About why I was doing it.  About how they thought it was a pretty damn good idea.  About why I hadn't written about it.

So, here you go.  

During the month of July, I will focus on one rock band or artist each day.  I learned quickly that there was no way to cleanly limit it to 31, as there are so many more that deserve mention.  I used executive power here.  

These are the bands and artists I picked.  Many will inevitably get left out. I made a few questionable calls, I'll admit that.  I'm sure I unintentionally forgot someone huge.  Some of them cross genres.  The posts are written in no particular order.

You may agree, you may disagree....but what I hope more than anything is that you will share this with your kids.  That you will talk about the music of your life.  That you will play your old records and remember.

Come along for the ride.

It's gonna be epic.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 30

Day 30~

Family.

I ended the challenge with the same theme last year, so I'm going to have to switch up my pictures this time around.

If you want to meet everyone, you can check out the post from last time.

This year, I'm finding that I'm focused a lot more inward.  Circling the wagons.  Protecting my immediate family.  Us.

Since this is a photography challenge, after all, I have to include what I think is one of the best shots I've ever taken of my babies.  This one was from a few years ago.

November, 2010
The rest of these are some of my most cherished pictures of us over the years.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
Still figuring this stuff out, we are.

Ashley, 6 months

AJ, 4 months

Aidan, the morning of 9/11, 4 months

Aidan and Ally, almost 4 and 3 weeks

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 29

Day 29~

Endings.

All good things must come to an end, so they say, including this challenge.  Only two days left, and another year's work is in the books. Here are some pictures of endings in my life.
The end of his elementary school days.
Her last day as a Daisy Girl Scout.
The end of another great season.

The last day my baby boy was ever 2.

The rainbow at the end of my Dads's funeral.

Common Sense

In this place where I live now, there is a short list of things that are legal here that weren't in California.

At the top of that list, and by far the most important to my husband, fireworks.

Now, before you get all excited about it, there are limits.  Nothing is supposed to leave the ground.  All the stands in town sell the legal ones.  The sparklers, the fountains, the spinners.  You aren't supposed to blow anything else up.

I say supposed to because there are plenty of very-much-so-airborne fireworks around here every year.

You aren't supposed to cross state lines to get the illegal fireworks, but there are thousands of men (of course they are men, I mean c'mon) who drive to Wyoming to get the good stuff.

Bottle rockets.  M-80s.  The big ones that go boom in the sky.

The things sold at the giant warehouses just on the other side of the state line.  The things sold by the stores that mail out an annual firework porn catalog to everything with a Y chromosome in the state of Colorado.

It should be illegal.  

This year, we don't just have to worry about people blowing off hands or setting their houses on fire (like happened not too far from here last year), we have to worry about setting the state on fire.

It seems like half the state is already on fire.

A few weeks ago, well into the unseasonably warm and dry year we are having, the tents started going up.  After the huge fire to the North of us had been torching homes and hillsides, they set up shop.  The roll off containers, the bright banners, all of it.  This week, as new fires sprung up every day, the stands opened.

Fireworks sales haven't been halted here.  The city, as of today, is still going forward with the annual display, though others locally have pulled the plug.  I came home this evening to find a flyer hanging on the door, warning residents of the high level of enforcement planned this year regarding illegal fireworks.

The legal ones, though, still fine.

Right?

If something is legal, it must be okay...right?

Maybe I'm just jaded and cynical.  Maybe I spent most of my life living in a place where fires were just a part of life.  Maybe I see the writing on the wall for the remainder of the fire season here. Maybe I scan the horizon more often because of my little girl's lungs.  Maybe I realize that living within city limits does nothing to protect a house from a fire. Maybe I know that most people lighting fireworks are neither sober or as careful as they should be.  Maybe I feel the crunch of the grass beneath my feet and know that it's a recipe for disaster.  

The cities aren't willing to implement bans.  I get it.  They don't want the backlash from people, angry about how their freedoms are being taken away from them.  They don't want fireworks companies pissed off at them.  They know it won't work anyway.  All the bans in the world won't mean anything if people can still sneak them over state lines and blow shit up anyway.  

Instead, we have to rely on the notion that people have common sense.  That they will be safe and responsible.  

The problem is that, as Voltaire said all those years ago, common sense is not so common.

Wish us luck.  Wish us all luck.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 28

Day 28~

Action.

This one that I'm pulling from a few months ago, mostly because this is a hard theme to accomplish with a cell phone camera, even with the action settings.

This is where my telephoto lens and SLR come in handy.

Shots like this, during a game, are a challenge.  Your subject should be in focus, though that will often mean other things will not be.  It's a tradeoff that works just about every time.

This is my oldest daughter playing her last game of the season.

This picture is more impressive if I tell you she's a severe asthmatic who loves playing midfield.
She is strong and brave.  She is a fighter.  And she is awesome.

I'm a Junkie

I have this obsession with the Olympics.  I won't even call it minor.

It's already started.

Trials are going on now, and I'm hooked.  Once the games actually start, there is nothing else ever on the TV.

Seriously, don't touch the remote.

From the first words of the opening ceremonies all the way clear through to the last country in the closing ones, I just can't get enough of it.

I will watch any sport too.  They could have competitive knitting and I'd watch it.

I love the stories, especially the underdogs from nations that don't have enough money for fancy training facilities.

I was talking to a friend about this yesterday, when I confessed just how bad it is.

My kids also have my crazy.  I've passed it down.

When Aidan was a baby, I took him to see the torch as it ran through San Diego for the 2002 Winter Olympics.  He had no idea why we were there, he was more concerned with chewing on his hands.  But he was there.  Oh, he was there.

Ever since then, my kids have been encouraged to love this spectacle as much as I do.  We make torches and signs for the opening ceremonies every time, have our own parade.  During the last Winter Olympics, they made medals too.

The Olympics were on the TV in the hospital when I was in labor with AJ.  I wasn't about to miss a thing.

Ally is completely obsessed with swimming, and has a huge crush on Michael Phelps.  When he was in the Beijing games, she was only three, but she was hooked.  She swooned over him, yelled at the TV every time he raced, dressed up in cheerleader outfits to root for him.  She'd stand and put her hand over her heart every time he won a medal.

We went to the grocery store one day and she saw a display of cereal boxes emblazoned with his picture.  She hugged the boxes and begged for one of her very own.

Last night, she wrote this.
The crush lives on.

Go Team USA.  Let's do this thing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday, round two

I had every intention in the world to write about something other than what I wrote about this morning.  Then I had completely spaced it.

What I had intended to write about wasn't so much a what as a who.

Rielle Hunter.

I wanted to like John Edwards.  Really, I did.  He played the role of loving father and supportive husband well.  He said all the right things, seemed genuinely concerned about the health and well-being of his ailing spouse, smiled at the right moments.

A real class act.

Except that he wasn't at all.  He was just another asshole cheating on his wife.  Using some delusional woman who believed that what they had was real.  Hiding her and sneaking around, seemingly using tons of campaign money to do it.

And it worked for a while.  Until she got knocked up.

She claimed one of his married staffers was the father, and everyone seemed to go along with it for a while, then she claimed someone else was the father.  Only after a fair amount of evidence of the affair had surfaced did Edwards admit to having been with her.  He denied paternity, though.

Why?  Because he's a liar.  And liars lie.

He eventually admitted paternity, around the time that his wife learned her cancer was terminal.

The family picture of dysfuction and narcissism.
Minus 4 other kids and his wife.
Now, both parties immediately involved here are entirely at fault for this sordid relationship.  The things that Edwards have done to his now-deceased wife and children are unspeakable.

What the wanna be lady Rielle is doing, however, is despicable.

She wrote a book, and is doing the full press circuit, though I wonder why any network would want to have anything to do with her attempt to profit off this.

She claims she is doing this for her daughter, that she wants her to know that she was conceived out of love.

The kind of love that involves sneaking around, sex tapes, denials of paternity, payoffs and betrayal.  The kind of love that destroys a family, ruins a political career and tortures an already dying woman.  If that's her idea of love, she is sorely mistaken.  That love, by the way, is officially over, just in time for her to finish up those interviews.  That's just so terribly convenient.

Clearly, she is only thinking about her child here.  Right.

She disgusts me.

She feels completely justified in everything she did.  She has drug Elizabeth through the mud, which would be bad enough if she were still alive, but is inexcusable given the fact that she isn't.

Besides which, how Elizabeth was portrayed by the slimy Mr. Edwards probably isn't all that accurate.  See the above point about how liars lie.  He would have said anything to get in Rielle's pants, and bashing his sick wife seems to have been acceptable in his eyes.

I will not be watching any interviews with her, I will not give any book she writes so much as a passing glance.  She is trash, trying to hit the jackpot, standing on the shoulders of a little girl who will never ever know what normal is.  And who will grow up in a world where her mother is so proud of her homewrecking status that she wrote a tell-all book about it.

Frances Quinn Hunter, I am sorry that you were born into this mess.  No child deserves this.

Photo Challenge - Day 27

Day 27~

Macro.

This theme is about getting a tight, focused close up shot of something.  Last year, I took a picture of the ring I've been using as the logo for the challenge this year.
 This year, I'm pushing my part of the challenge even further, by taking all my pictures on a camera phone.

Yep, you read that right.  All the images I've taken in this challenge, with the exception of a few older pictures, are done on my phone.

This is the world we live in, and part of the reason I do this challenge is to remind people that beauty is all around us, and that we live in an age where technology exists to capture it well.

Anymore, phones come with cameras capable of different settings, editing options and more.  I decided to try out the macro setting.

This is a picture of a one of the hibiscus plants I took at the Butterfly Pavilion with my little boy this week.

Don't underestimate the ability of the thing you carry at all times to capture images like this.

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the hotter than hell edition

It's hot here.

Really f-ing hot.

It was 106 today, a degree hotter than it got in Denver.

There is just no good reason for that, especially considering that it's only June.

Consequently, I'm whiny.


It's so hot that it's even too hot to go to the pool.  You know it's too damn hot when you cross that threshold.

I don't do hot well.  Never have.  Don't ever anticipate doing so.  In fact, I was trying to figure out why old people retire to places like Arizona.  In the event that I ever have the means to move somewhere else to retire, it sure as hell isn't going to be somewhere that gets this hot routinely.

Maybe humans get more heat tolerant as they age?  Who knows?  I guess I'll find out, right?

It's blazing hot, and it seems like half the state is on fire.  I'm not kidding on that one.  Last I heard, there were 12 active wildfires burning.  I miss seeing the mountains without the veil of haze.  I want to be able to open the basement door without being assaulted by the odor.  I want to be able to send my daughter to girl scout camp without panicking half the time she is gone, worried that her asthma will act up something fierce.

Speaking of camp...

One of the leaders called Friday, the other didn't call until last night.  At like 6pm.  On the list of things my daughters need to bring???

Whistles.

Seriously, WTF?

At the top of the list of things I diligently try to make sure I keep OUT of my house are whistles.  It's not something we normally have around.  On purpose.  Which is why it would have been nice to know that more than 15 hours in advance of camp beginning.

Do people really keep whistles???  Aside from actual referees and P.E. teachers, what kind of people have whistles???

Of course by then, everything else was closed and I was stuck going to WalMart.

The only whistles there were the fluorescent orange whistles that hunters use.  Classy.

I needed to go anyway, actually.  I got all motivated to get some home improvement projects done, and stripped the old caulk out of the shower.  Was all set to put the new stuff in when I couldn't find a caulk gun.  Pretty much impossible to use the caulk without the gun.  Which would have been good information to have before I started the project.  


Details....


The biggest thunderstorm we've had in weeks decided to show up just as I pulled into the parking lot, taking the sweet opportunity to pelt me with hail as I ran through the parking lot.


I looked pretty damn ridiculous.


Honestly, though, who cares?  I was at WalMart at 9pm on a Sunday, covered in sweat and silicone with three wet children, one of which was wearing pajamas.

In other words, I was right where I was supposed to be.

I proudly walked out with my caulk gun, hunting whistles and a frozen pizza.  Just like the punchline of a really bad joke.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 26

Day 26~

A memory.

This one almost requires an older picture, unless you are creative enough to come up with a way to get it done today.

The idea here isn't just to show me an item or a souvenir.  Tell me what it means to you, why it's important.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the last time we all made the trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach with my Dad.  Here he is with 4 of the 5 grandbabies he had at the time, my brother and my husband.

The aquarium was by far one of my Dad's favorite places to go, and he especially loved to take the kids there.  I hope that my kids will remember this trip, and this time they had with him.  I hope that they will cherish it as much as I do.

Miss you, Dad.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 25

Day 25~

Light.

This is another one of the new themes this year, intended to elicit more artistic pictures.  Light is, far and above, the most critical element of good photography....in many ways, even more than the camera you are using.

We are fortunate to live in a digital age, where you can experiment with lighting and angles and so many other facets of photography without having to pay for developing film!

Play with the light around you.  Try different angles, let the shadows provide depth and definition to your shots.

This is one of the pictures that I tend to always show people when they ask for my advice about photography.  Bright, indirect, natural sunlight will always provide the warmest, richest color for skintones.

My baby girl, at two weeks old.

Photo Challenge - Day 24

Day 24~

Something funny.

For as much as they drive me insane, my kids entertain me endlessly too.  Especially the biggest one.  He's completely goofy, has his mother's self-deprecating sense of humor and has no hesitation with making himself look ridiculous just to get a giggle out of someone else.


He totally would have walked around the store dressed like this, as if he is some bizarre conflicted superhero.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 23

Day 23~

Profile.

This one is new to the challenge this year, and I find that I tend to take a lot of these kind of pictures when my kids aren't expecting them.  I prefer the unposed candid shots of them in general, but I love profile pictures.

Seems like you can see them age and mature more from this angle.

This is my baby girl during a soccer game, right before she scored a goal.

Oh, how I love a good queen

I took my daughter to a local dinner theater last night.  Every year the girls in her girl scout troop choose how they want to spend their proceeds from cookie sales.

The first year, we slept overnight at the zoo, which was a night worthy of writing about in and of itself.  Last year, the girls did an overnight at the aquarium, but we had to skip it because my little girl was nursing a broken foot.  At the time, she couldn't put any weight on it at all and was rolling around on a knee scooter...let's just say that child is a bit like a bull in a china shop on a good day.  Put her on wheels and you're just asking for trouble.

This year, the girls took a good long while deciding what to do, though I highly suspect that the moms' collective opposition to another overnight may have played a role too.  They eventually settled on the dinner theater.

We went to see the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella.

I thought it would be like the books and the movies we already own, full of cheese and unrealistic expectations about love.  And it was.  It also taught a troop full of little girls a lesson that I'm not even sure they were learning.

The lead actress suffered a spinal cord injury as a baby, and was partially paralyzed from the waist down.  They clearly choreographed around her limitations, but she danced and sang and acted so well that eventually I didn't even notice her limp anymore.

I sat at a table with three of the girls last night, and not a single one of them mentioned Cinderella's differences.  They were more concerned about wanting to know why she was kissing a guy she hardly knew, and being grossed out about it.

Cinderella was just a girl who became a princess, regardless of her challenges.  She became an even more sympathetic character under the thumb of the evil stepmother.  You wanted to root for her even more.

Try as we may to teach our children that everyone is deserving of respect, that everyone has gifts and talents, that everyone has a story worth telling, that message is often diminished by the realities of the world we live in.  Cinderella showed those girls last night that anything is possible.  I hope that they all will carry that message away from the performance, even (and maybe especially) if they didn't realize they were learning it.

If I had to wager a guess as to what most of them are talking about this morning, though, it was the step sisters.  It would be hard not to be talking about the step sisters.

These characters have always been the comic relief in the story, but they were played completely over the top by two very tall, very fluffy, very loud men last night.  Hilarious.  They stole the show.

My daughter and the queen
There should be a rule about this.  Every stage production should include at least one drag queen.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 22

Day 22~

Shoes.

This was, by far, one of the most popular themes from last year.  A girl has a special relationship with her shoes, one that I wrote about here if you're so inclined.

These are Cali Girl Skechers that I found for $19.99 last year!  Seriously, best bargain shopping find ever.


They are SO me.  I'm a laid back kind of girl, with a little bling.  More than that, I'm a Cali Girl and always will be.

My daughters squealed with delight when I got these, and they love it when we all get to wear our sparkle shoes together.

Everyone needs a little sparkle.

Wanna see what 16 really overwhelmed people look like?

A few weeks ago we took the kids to the zoo to see the new elephant exhibit.  We have a tradition of always heading over to City Park for a picnic either before or after we go to the zoo.

The kids absolutely love this park, mostly because it's an old-school playground, full of all the fun things to climb on that no one installs in parks anymore.

Too dangerous, too high, too many splinters.

Too fun.

We really had no idea how good we had it when we were kids.
You know you did this.
Anyhow, we made our way over to the picnic table we claimed long ago and set up lunch.

One of the kids started oohing and aahing over a baby a few tables away.  I looked up to see them. All 16 of them, not counting babies.

Hipster moms and dads, complete with $500 strollers and matching diaper bags.

What was obviously a birthing class must have been having their first post-baby reunion.  Six very tiny newborns were there, along with two exceptionally pregnant women.

That has to suck.

Yay!  We scheduled this get together months ago, when we just assumed we wouldn't be huge and pregnant anymore!  Yes, I'm still pregnant.  Screw you all.

Those poor women, and all the advice the now-expert birthers were giving them about how to go into labor.  About how it was best to wait for it to all happen naturally, about their lovely home births or emergency c-sections.  I'm pretty sure the still-pregnant ones just wanted to tell all the rest of them off.

At some point shortly after realizing what was going on, I leaned over to my father in law and asked him if he knew what 16 very overwhelmed people looked like.

He laughed.

They were all completely overwhelmed.

Every time I see brand new parents I simultaneously want to go give them a hug and tell them to calm down, and wonder if I was that lost and clueless.

There was one dad who had no idea how to hold the baby.  At all. It was like watching someone try to catch a fish with their bare hands.

One that took a good 15 minutes to change one diaper.  On a dirty picnic bench.  With no pad underneath.  Give that one a second to sink in.

The couple that thought they knew what they were doing, as they put a baby less than a month old into a jogging stroller with an upright seat.  I had to sit on my hands with that one.

The mom talking about her planned, scheduled c-section for no reason other than fear of delivery, who wasn't nursing because it is gross.

The dad holding the week old baby girl, who was dressed in a tiny sundress even though the temperature was only in the high 60's.

The mom talking about sleep training her 2 week old.  As if.

These people had no clue what they were doing.

I know.

Been there, done that.

Fortunately for their parents, babies don't remember this shit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Photo Challenge - Day 21

Day 21~

Love.

This one should be simpler than it is, it should be easier than it ends up being.

Love, at least in our society, is defined by symbols and traditions, but the meaning often gets lost.

Us, 1997
This is us, about six months before we got married.  Back before kids, before cancer, before everything else.  

When it was easy.

If only we could go back in time and recapture that.  

Happy Anniversary.

...and I didn't even get the good drugs

Usually I can handle sleep deprivation just fine.  I'm like a seasoned athlete in the world of competitive insomnia.

Usually.

I got a text from a friend last night as I climbed into bed that told me immediately that I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon.  I was getting dressed again and I was sneaking down the stairs in the dark, and I was going somewhere else I needed to be.

Besides, I have my own VIP entrance at the hospital.  True story.

Which is fine.  I'm good that way.

I got back home eventually, put my pajamas back on, gave my husband the quick summary of what was going on and shut my eyes.

That's when the fun started, and I swear I didn't even get any of the good drugs.

I woke myself up talking a few times.  No idea what I was talking about, pretty sure I wasn't talking to anyone.  Tom sort-of acknowledged me once, but he was more asleep than I was and went back to snoring right away.

Then, this morning, my husband woke me up laughing.

Asked me where exactly I had been last night and what I saw.  Wanted to know who I was talking about and if I remembered anything.

I had literally no idea what he was talking about.

Apparently, though, it was me doing the talking.  I went on and on and on about the little people that were coming.  He asked me questions, I gave details.  I insisted that he should know what I was talking about, then assured him that if he didn't, he would soon.
Somehow I don't think these are the little people I was talking about.
Be warned, the little people are coming.  Soon.

Whatever the hell that means.

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