December 2008

New Tai Chi Move

Carry berries to mountain and wish HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Two Words.

1. Kate.

2. Pigtails.

(and a few more words… just ’cause.)

I cannot wait to have Photoshop and Aperture at my fingertips once again.  Must. Ignore. Photo. Problems.  For now.

In the meanwhile, I created my own problems with light and dark.

I worked on it in pieces over the past few days… while the kids ate lunch, watching Will and Paul play Lego Indiana Jones, during naptimes.  The photo above is the only ‘in process’ photo I have, unless someone looks at the ‘finished?’ product below and tells me that something about it totally sucks.  I had to throw it in a frame, quickly, because I was starting to get the point where I could over-do and ruin it completely.

Here’s the scanned photo the sketch was based on:

Here’s my interpretation:

So far, only one person (rhymes with ‘other’) who has seen it that has found problems with it.  No, no, not my brother the fantastic artist (actually, he pointed out some strengths and gave tips).  Drawing my own kids was fun, but hard… challenges abounded with this one.  But, most everyone else seems to like it.  Ultimately, I really enjoyed making it.  I forgot how much of a difference it makes in my life.

I wonder if I could combine portrait drawing into photography packages?

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Sidewalk Chalk

Today was a big play day with the kids.  Inside, outside, over, under, there and back again.

Some tidbits:

To “xtroy” something means to annihilate it.  As in, “Mommy, I need to use my light saver to xtroy these flowers to get some more points.”

When one is tired from riding a big wheel while Mommy jogs alongside, the appropriate phrase to rest is, “I need to stop and take a breathe.”  (Not breath, but breathe.  Verbs are the new nouns.)

To “crams” is to get lost, not to be confused with the similar word, “scram”.  As in, “Tell those dogs to crams so that we can have the sidewalk to ourselves.”

Towards the end of the afternoon, I got artsy with the 50mm.  Here in Mobile, I don’t have access to any photo editing, so these are just the straight shots… no edits.  I was playing with the highest aperture available to my beloved 50mm (a dreamy 1.4/f) and most of the pictures are at 1/80 or faster with 100 ISO. With the 50mm on the cropped sensor (1.6x on the 400D), there is a 35mm equivalent of around 81mm.

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Holly (and other) Days


My brother, Skipper (now answering to his true name, Tim) and me.  I’m a little older than Kate is right now in this picture.  Billerica, Massachusetts.

This must be the moment that my parents explained that my brother, being the boy, would be financially supported through college and that I was expected to marry well right out of high school.


Skip and I with our first big wheels.  I rode mine until all the stickers fell off or faded to white and there were holes in the wheels.  The big wheel Skip is on is different than the Hot Wheels tricycle he rode onto the 4-lane high way in the middle of rush hour traffic while my Dad was painting the house.

That’s my grandfather’s German train set under our tree.  Paul and I have that garland (Filene’s basement special — my Mom worked nights at Filene’s).  My Dad gave the trains to my Uncle, who sold them (d’oh!)  This Christmas, my Dad and brother put together parts of the same train, bought used over the past few months on ebay.


Still in Billerica!  I was a Strawberry Shortcake girl.  I’ve seen that Strawberry and her buds are back… but taller, thinner, shapelier, and with makeup.  Ugh.


We’d moved to Summerville, SC, by now — but spent this holiday away from home.  This is at my Grandma Betty’s house in Woodstock, VA.  That’s my cousin Becky in Grandma’s lap.

That’s my cousin Stephen.  The same guy who took Will fishing last September.  Remember the necklace?  That’s an Annie locket.  My hair is actually growing out from an Annie perm.  OH YES, a Little Orphan Annie Perm.

That was all I could find in the attic.

Here are some old photos I had backed up my parents’ computer.


Mobile, Alabama.


Mobile, Alabama.


Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, LA.


Mobile, Alabama.

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Family Stories
Mi Familia

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Photohunt: Squeaky

I was thinking of photos from our first year in the house, when Paul stripped the hanging doors before Katrina and re-wired the entire house.  Squeaky made me think of electronics, metals, and the sounds of our old house.

Then I saw this picture of Will, mixed in with those early home-improvement days.

And I thought, “mouse,” which is most definitely a squeaky little thing.

So here’s my first born at 17 months.  Back in the days when he could be called squeaky.

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Did I almost destroy us all?

I made turkey this year for Christmas dinner.  Not a full turkey, I know my limits, but a full turkey breast, which I figure is pretty darn good for me, all things considered.  Those ‘all things’ include that I was a vegetarian for 8 years and Paul for 15 — in other words, neither of us are particularly knowledgeable in the preparation of meat.

When I was pregnant with Kate and overseas, I became pretty seriously anemic.  Actually, between you and me, I think I’m still struggling with this whole anemia thing, but that’s another story.  In any case, the iron issue was what brought me back to meat in the first place (it was easier than going out of my way to find soy products in Peru).  But it was at least a year until I got the courage to actually cook meat myself.

Now when I cook meat, I do so almost exclusively with the crockpot.  It’s just hard to screw things up and I feel confident that everything is cooked through without being too dry.  So, naturally, when I considered cooking turkey, I gravitated toward recipes that involve a crock pot.

So we’re talking to my Mom and Paul mentioned my newly found turkey cooking skills.  How DARN GOOD that Christmas turkey from the crock pot was — with the added perks of how great the house smelled all day, that the kids loved it, and how he was just thrilled as can be that we had three more meals of it tucked away in the freezer.  The compliments went right to my head and I threw in how easy it was… cut herbs from the porch, juiced some lemons, marinated everything overnight, and then put it all in the crock pot to cook all day.

My Mother, Goodness Bless Her, picked right up on something.  She quickly called her girlfriends to gain support.  Then with the voices of Two Seasoned Cooks behind her, she reported to me that I committed Serious Culinary Sin.  Apparently, one NEVER cooks poultry in it’s marinade.


This is what the recipe* said:

Place turkey, skin side down, in a large leakproof food storage bag or a nonreactive (glass or ceramic) dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over turkey, turning to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours, or overnight. Place turkey and marinade in the crockot; cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or until tender.

A similar recipe is here, too.

My Mother has never really recovered from the trauma of realizing that I make far superior chocolate chip cookies**, so I take her critique with a grain of salt.

But she is my Mom*** and has our best interests in mind.  (By ‘best interests’ I mean more than maintaining that my children only eat meals that she prepares.)  So, I appeal to the experts of the internet: is the recipe above one for good turkey, or gastro-intestinal illness?


* I should note that I deviated from the recipe considerably, as I always do.  (I fear that I do not follow directions well.)  I added broth.  I wouldn’t know a dry wine from a glass of water, so I used the only bottle of wine in the house (it was a chardonnay, which I assume is a white wine because it wasn’t red colored).  I used more wine than the recipe called for, as well as more herbs.  I added salt (a lot, because I know you’re suppose to have a lot of salt in a brine) and peppercorns, also because I hear they are popular when you cook turkey.  I didn’t have Dijon mustard in the house (I think mustard is foul) so I used a dried mustard powder that I have on hand because it works good with several tofu dishes we cook.   I have no idea if any of what I have done matters in whether or not what I served was deadly.

** Yes.  I make one seriously awesome chocolate chip cookie.

*** In all seriousness, my Mother is an excellent, Excellent(!) cook.

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Silent Night (’cause we’re on our way out the door)

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Happy Holidays

… from our house, to yours.

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Twas the night before Christmas, one that almost didn’t happen.

2 was more difficult than 1.  3 was more difficult than 2.  4 was difficult, but a lot like 3, so we got used to handling it.  5?  5 may be the worst yet.

Will was really really rough today.  REALLY ROUGH.

He called me a bad name and had some time to think in his room.  Paul explained that he needed to write an apology letter to me and Santa.  He stared one, cried tears of remorse, and turned into the perfect lovey guy… even going with Paul to The Bead Shop to make me a present with his jewelry buddy, Ms. Georgia.

Then something happened and all the magic was gone.  He was back in his room.

This time, he got right to work on his apologies.  He finished the first (above) and moved on to a second and then a third.  Maybe he needed the time to work through some stuff.

We were beginning to think that everything was going to be okay.

Then Paul discovered that some of his thank you landed on his bed.  We were dumbfounded.

When I asked Will why he wrote on the bed, huge alligator tears began to roll down his cheeks.  “I don’t know,” he said, and I knew he was telling the truth.  He had no idea why he did it, why the irrestible urge came over him, and what made him carry through with it.  Maybe it’s similar to why I cannot resist singing along to the song “Word Up” whenever I hear it, irregardless of the situation (but really, who can resist that?) and Paul’s inability to resist making terrible puns in the most serious of conversations (“what should our wedding song be?” “how about What’ll You Do for Money, Honey?”)  Some things just can’t be refused.

I didn’t know whether to laugh, be angry, or just give him a hug.  I sort of felt like doing all three.

So we settled for him eating dinner.  When he was done, he sassed Paul and we were back to square one.  Again.  Then, after bathtime and a good cry, he was back to being extra sweet.  He brought me his third and final apology letter and read it over with me.  He promised that he was going to work “on a good attitude.”

So he went to bed.  He fell asleep in a second, which makes me think he was tired and worry that maybe that his ear isn’t healing so well?

Kate, on the other hand, was perfectly adorable all day.  Running around the house calling out “Santa is coming!  Santa is coming!”  Then, at bed time, was so worked up that when we explained that she had to go to sleep or Santa couldn’t visit, she gave us her classic pout and declared that she “didn’t want Santa at my house.”  The ying and yang of parenting: one child must always be driving the parent crazy.

Still, Santa decided to show.  With some big surprises.  This year, Santa was more than just Mom, too, but we’ll talk about that after the big reveal in the morning…


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His egg nog needs a bit more rum, too.

Last night, at Celebration in the Oaks:

“Paul, did you see that woman?  She had a violin strapped to her back!”

“What do you expect?  We live in New Orleans.  You never know when you’ll have a random act of violins.”


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