Thursday, May 17, 2018

Picture Perfect

Middle School Concert
Let me start by saying I grew up in a Kodak family living in Kodak's original city - EVERYONE in my family, including myself, worked at Kodak at one time or another.  My dad was an engineer that designed and tested film.  After my dad retired from Kodak, he started a second career as a photographer.  We take a LOT of pictures in my family...  A lot.  And I LOVE pictures -- to me those are captured memories and when my memory is not as great as it once was, I will still have those photos for myself, for my girls, and someday for their children.

So here is the thing -- I love beautiful portraits of my girls!  I learned a lot from my dad being a photographer - I am much more aware of "busy-ness" in a picture and if I'm taking a portrait of my girls or helping them pick out an outfit for school picture day, I will encourage them to wear something that matches each other or at least goes nicely together.  I never want what they are wearing to take the focus away from their beautiful faces!  (They, btw, have completely different styles and so coordinating is sometimes a struggle...  But we manage!)  I also love taking pictures at events or on trips, etc., and I like to make sure that I have a nice background so you can see where we were but also see the girls (if they are in the picture).  I will wait until other people walk through so that I don't have a whole bunch of other people in the picture.

And over the years my girls have learned that I will wait for them to compose themselves so that I can get that beautiful portrait picture.  I remember years ago while trying to get the "perfect" picture for our Christmas card I said, "Here's the thing, this can take as little or as much time as you want -- the quicker you give me one nice smile, the quicker we can get a good picture and move on!"  I think I posted some of the outtakes of that photo shoot on here!

But in addition to learning what makes a "good" portrait or a "good" vacation photo, I've learned that some of the very BEST pictures are the candid ones!  My girls get each other laughing and they act goofy and I cherish those sometimes more than the actual picture that I was aiming for!  Those are the snapshots of life - not them frozen in a pose, prim and proper, but real glimpses of who they are and full of their personalities.  I love the camera function that allows me to hold the button down and just shoot continuously and see what I captured later!  And you know what?  I've started adding some of those to the photo cards we create for the holidays!  It's good to loosen up and let the kids be who they are - they'll have more fun, you'll get great photos and most importantly you'll make great memories!
"Don't hit your sister!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Where Have I Been Lately?

My Girls on Concert & Science Fair Night!
Life has been pretty darn busy.  When we moved from NY to NH, and I went from working 35 hours a week outside of the house (and spending an additional hour commuting) to working 20 hours a week IN the home, I thought, "Oh hooray, I'll have more time to write on my blog!"  Yeah, right...  We've been here for almost 5 years now, and in the beginning, I volunteered for a lot of things because a) I was more of a stay-at-home mom now and when I worked away from home I missed out on helping at school, and b) it was a good way to meet people and make connections in our new town where we knew absolutely no one!  Those things kept me busy, got me involved in the community and most importantly in my kiddos lives!  And so, my blog was one of the things that got put on the back burner.  

Fast forward to this past week, when my girls and I were eating dinner together two nights in a row while my husband had to work late, and my eldest pulled up my blog on her phone and started entertaining us with stories of when they were younger!  We laughed so hard at some of the stories - my 11-year-old briefly reverted back to a 2-year-old for 24 hours, repeating some of the cute things that she had heard that she had said 9 years prior...  But mostly we just really enjoyed having that record of our family.  The girls both told me that I should write the blog again and I said they should make a list of things they want me to catch up on and I will do my best!  If for no one else's entertainment than theirs -- and my mom who always read my blog posts!  (Love you, Mom!)

This reinvigoration for my blog is coming during one of my busiest times of the year - Pops Concert Raffle Time!  To catch up on what I / we are up to these days, I have an 11-year-old who is in middle school and is in band, jazz band and drama club.  I have a 17-year-old who is in high school and is in too many bands to name (I believe it's 5 at school and 1 community band in a neighboring town).  This year I have opted to drive them to school, instead of having them take the bus that arrives at 6:25am (if I drive we leave the house at 7!) and because they have so many after-school activities, I pick them up every day.  Our schools are about 7 minutes from our house and I am happy to be able to do this - it is a little extra time with them each day, an opportunity to make sure we all know the afternoon pick up schedule on the way to school, and an opportunity to hear about their days a little before we get home and have homework to do.  I still work from home, but I have a new job that I love - back in human services which is my favorite type of work!  In addition, I still work a few hours a week for my other virtual job, which helps them and also helps support all of the extra activities, lessons, school trips, proms...  I also (from year 1 here) still teach Sunday school at church during the year -- I am excited for next year when I will be back helping with my youngest daughter's class!  And I volunteer for End 68 Hours a couple of times a month and as I mentioned - it's Pops Concert Raffle Time - I am the committee of one for the big year-end raffle at the high school's end of year concert.  

I am super busy these days, but through all of this I get to spend a lot of time with my girls, I know a lot of their friends, their friends' parents, their teachers, and I definitely feel involved in our adopted community -- and I wouldn't change any of that!  (Although if anyone wants to help me make calls for raffle prize donations or help with writing Thank You cards at the end of May, let me know!  ;)

Movie Night Negotiations

It’s April Recess here and I’m listening to my girls negotiate for movie nights...  “I’ll watch a Harry Potter if you watch a Star Wars”. “Ok, but which Star Wars?”  “The Last Jedi - which Harry Potter?”  “The first one” “Nope - I just watched that in film class!” And on and on...  They found common ground on not watching Harry Potter Goblet of Fire — because no one cut their hair in that movie!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Third Time's a Charm

Sitting in the kitchen, chatting with my littlest girlie after school today and she tells me that she lost one of her favorite books at school.  She said one of her teachers helped her find it by saying, "Maybe it's over on the shelf over there."  My girl told me that while he said that, she looked over at the shelf, recognized her book and bookmark sticking out of it, and ran over to grab the book ad hug it!  She said then she ran out of the room (I believe to catch her bus).  I said, "Did you say thank you to your teacher?"  And she said, yes.  I said, "Did you?"  She said, yes.  I said, "Did you?"  And with a smile she said, "probably not!"  This has been a routine we have gone through since she was a toddler just learning to talk.  If I knew the answer to a question (which I usually do -- she thinks moms are magical and all-knowing -- that will likely change when she is a teenager), I would ask her, she would decline, I'd ask two more times and finally she would 'fess up to whatever it was!  (It used to be, "did you brush your teeth?" or "did you feed the dog...")  In my experience with her, it's usually forgetfulness on her part and the first two questions give her a few moments to gather her thoughts.  I find it cute because it reminds me of when she was a little, little girl!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Back to School Routine

Off to school on their first day!
I honestly do not know where the summer went this year!  It seems like I was just picking the girls up from their last day of school, and now they've been back to school a little over a week!!  The last week of their summer vacation, I was feeling like we didn't do enough, or we didn't do anything too exciting, or I worked too much (20 hours a week from home).  Also, with my "baby" leaving elementary school and moving up to 5th grade at the middle school, and my eldest entering 10th grade (!!) I was having the pangs of the rapid passage of time and how did this two little munchkins grow up so quickly?  A funny thing happened though on the first day of school - I had a distinct feeling of "there is nothing I can do about it now, today is a new day" and I have quickly gotten into the school routine again!  

But our routine has changed a lot this year!  My girls both ride the same bus - at the same time - last year the bus & driver made the route at 6:30am to pick my eldest up, and then did the route again to pick my youngest up at 8:00am!  This year, with one in middle school and one in high school, they are on the same bus, so my youngest and I are getting up at 5:45am every morning to make the 6:30 bus!  My eldest still gets up at 5:30am as she has the past few years, but now she has to share the bathroom with her little sister -- she is not thrilled about that!  Last year my older daughter had a routine of getting up, eating breakfast, relaxing for a few minutes whether back in bed or on the computer or on her iPod, then getting ready for school.  Her make-up routine involved mascara.  Over the summer, when her cousin and best friend came to visit for a week she was introduced to the larger world of make-up (tasteful, of course!) and so that takes a little more mirror time in the morning!  Last year, I would get up about 20 minutes before my daughter left on the bus -- she is more than capable of getting herself ready and out the door, but I wanted her to have some company in the morning and also wanted to make sure that she got on the bus safely.  

I had planned to get up earlier this year and help my little one get ready.  All summer she begged to have an alarm clock -- panicking about how would she wake up on her own at 5:00 (really 5:45, but she had 5 in her head) without an alarm clock?  I promised I would wake her, but she insisted, so I found a little white alarm clock with multi-colored numbers -- for $5.99 at Target!  Can't beat that!  We got that the week before school started and every night at bedtime she wanted to set it for "5:00" the next morning!  I convinced her that we could wait, no need to wake up so early when we didn't have to!  A few days before school we began getting her back to an earlier bedtime.  The first day of school, at 5:45am her alarm made the first "blip" of it's little song, and she bounced out of bed and shut it off, ready to start the day!  This summer, we cleaned out the clothes in both girls' closets and set them up with one of those hanging fabric shelves that has about 6 "pockets" (shelves).  My eldest is not quite using it the way I had in mind, but my youngest and I have gone through her clothes and picked out a week's worth of outfits at a time and we put one complete outfit in each "pocket."  In the morning, her alarm goes off, she gets up, opens her closet and takes out her outfit to get dressed!  This has been working WONDERFULLY for both her and me!  It saves both of us time in the morning!

I am not normally a morning person, but this past week in particular, I have found myself enjoying staying up (I really could go back to bed for a little bit if I wanted) and getting work done earlier, straightening things up around the house, etc.  Yesterday, I had pot roast in the crock pot at 6:00am, had made beds, done the dishes, folded some laundry, and put 4 hours of work in by 11:00am!  What a great feeling!!  I was lucky to find a part-time, 20 hour a week job as a virtual executive assistant, and so I am able to work from home which really is a blessing!  It can be a stressful job, in spite of the fact that I work at home and can work in my pj's if I want...  I am trying to better manage my time so that when the girls get home around 2:30pm, I am done with work and available to help with homework and hear about their day with no work distractions!  So far so good since school started last week!

What types of things do you do to help ease back into the school routine?