27 July 2013

iPhone and Nikon love

I'm obsessed (OBSESSED, I say!) with these images captured by my outdated iPhone 4 at Crystal Cove State Park.  Maybe it's not exactly fair because they came in through the camera, but eventually came out through Lightroom after some rotating (I can't hold something that small squarely!) and some gratuitous antiquing.  Still, I didn't have to crop or sharpen--just crushed the blacks and altered the temperature and tint a bit.

They found another pair of brothers to play with!

Why have I been relying on my phone so much?  I got used to it when the D4 had to return to its mother ship.  My beloved DSLR lost its rubber toggle switch.  UPS quoted a jaw-dropping $110 to ship the body.  Since we are fortunately enough to be within driving distance to the west coast repair center, the camera hitched a ride with us up to LA on our way out for the weekend.  We got to the counter late Friday morning and I was given warranty treatment even though my year had expired.  I got it back in my hands Wednesday afternoon, free of charge.  Nikon replaced the rubber, but also replaced the card cover, adjusted the auto focus operation, and checked the bayonet mount and flash operation and gave it an overall general cleaning.  Even the shipping back to me was free.  Yay Nikon!

Crescent Beach

I'm pretty skilled at the art of mimicking extroversion.  Given my druthers, I would happily be by myself most of the time. 

I don't want to pass on this love of isolation to the boys so we maintain an open door policy at our house.  There are constantly people filtering in and out of this place throughout the school year.  Last summer, I was so drained by it all, I basically put our family on lockdown.  This summer, I wanted a more balanced approach.

I can honestly say that this day at the beach was much improved by having friends around.

Here is A2 dancing in the ocean.  This one would probably have a good time regardless because he's full of dance and joy like that.

I have no stories

All I do here is complain.  But I wouldn't want the boys reading this blog and remembering me as a complainer who whined all through their entire childhood.  When I think of my father and what he was like when I was growing up, I remember his stories.  Sometimes they were long, drawn out narratives and sometimes they were little snippets of his life.

Whenever he estimates the number of people in a crowd, I'm apt to believe him because he often recounted tales of counting ducks who scuttled about and being diligent about herding them all, each and every one, back home. 

I had a serious problem with cows.  I mean, I LOVED them.  Some girls dug ponies and some fancied puppies and kittens, but not me.  I'd pick a bovine buddy over the rest one any day.  First of all, they can kill you (hello...stampedes!) but they don't.  Imagine a creature with all that power at their hooftips who instead chooses to peacefully graze all day.  But I also think my early love of cows had much to do with my father's stories of his farm's water buffalo.  He spoke of them so tenderly that I couldn't help elevating them to regal status.  Once, when the family fell on hard times, they had to sell a portion of their herd and my father told me that they saw them shed tears, looking mournfully back at him.  Now that I'm an adult I understand that it was more likely my father, as a fretful boy, who shed the tears, but when I first heard him imbue cattle with so much emotion, I was completely drawn in by his storytelling.

Though I'd like to believe that I shield the boys from the majority of my neuroses.  I mean, we're still doing stuff like leaping from bed in to bed in our hotel room, right?

When and how much

...do we, as parents, intervene.  There are times when it's best to let them figure it out and times when it's absolutely necessary to jump in.  But I'm wiling to bet that most situations fall somewhere in between in that much dreaded gray area.

But it's probably agreed that I should do something about their terrible bowling stance, right?

Cub Scout day camp

I learn quite a number of things at day camp every year.  The first thing I figured out was that it's pretty much a total replay of the same events year after year.  Don't get me wrong, archery, BB guns, woodworking projects, outdoor cooking, etc. are all fabulously fun.  But I'm not sure they're necessary year after year considering the fact that we can and have replicated every one of these activities in our own at home.  Not only do we have a full sized archery set, more guns than most would deem appropriate, and a full assortment of power tools, we even replicate the group interaction with our own den meetings. 

This is my not-so-subtle way of promising myself that I will not go through with day camp again next year. 

It was physically draining to be camp photographer last year.  I marched up and down the hill over and over and over again throughout the day (and everyone knows how much I can't stand being in heat and sun).  Then, I stayed up until 2am every night to edit and immediately upload the images...only to start again at 7am the following day.  At the end of it all, I sorted about 2000 images by day and rank to give parents a full view of their kids throughout the day via the group site.

This year, even though I was anointed Sports Director, I actually engaged in less physical work.  But it was a horrible mental strain.  Rallying hormonal, curmudgeonly teenage volunteers who were assigned to my station was draining to say the least.  But I think the worst of it was witnessing the lackadaisical, distracted adult volunteer den leaders who dragged their feet into the Sports rotation.  I would be running like a chicken with its head cut off on the field while parents were texting buddies on their phones.  They brought lawn chairs and I actually once caught them sitting around talking about someone's extramarital affair with a 20-something year old.  It was emotional taxing, I say!  I understand that not everyone is athletic (ahem...I'm one of those non-athletic people!), but would hurt these leaders to watch the event and once in a blue moon, support their charges, "Yay, Billy! Good kick!"  No, it would not hurt.  Not one bit.

Okay...I know what matters it that the boys had a great time.  I even have a few pictures to prove it!

A'2 den during the rodeo events, as a den with their flag, and during their end-of-camp performance:

A1 with his buddy, whom he first met in preschool when they were only 3, his den neatly lined up, his den not so neatly lined up, and their end-of-camp performance:

Rain at Mormon Rocks

...so that's why I only got this singular image:

Modeling clay and sun sensitive paper

Visits to the art museum give the boys experiences with new materials.

This is A1's clay island that has a hut and palm tree in addition to sharks and a dragon, whose fiery breath is only matched the heat of the volcano.

A2's island boasts sea snakes and sharks.  He spent most of his time creating a fabulous beach for his inhabitants.

By the time evening rolls around, the boys are still riding the high of the museum visit!

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area

Obligatory sign shot:

The instant we stopped the van, the boys ran off at top speed.  Good thing I put them in really brightly colored shirts.

A2 took a break to look at a huge nest.

But they're off again!

Some times, they even had adult accompaniment!  (James is wearing purple.)

No one wanted to accompany A1 up that giant hill, though.
A2 was perfectly happy to sit with us in the shade.

 All in all, a great time in the desert...during summer.

Harvard Skate Park

Instead of bringing their skateboards, they came in inline skates.

I wish I'd brought my skateboarding gear that day--there was no one in the park and that's what it would take for me to go in.  At this point, I'm relegated to going in straight lines and slowly at that.

Newport Dunes

A2 informs me that swimming in the bay is like having a giant family pool.  But frankly, I'm a beach girl so the stagnant water is a bit alarming to me.

17 July 2013

I'm no snob!

My stupid vertical multiselector rubber casing fell off somewhere on the Cub Scout day camp grounds and now I have to send my D4 into Nikon to be fixed (even though it's not longer under warranty) because they don't sell the spare part anywhere.  Bleh.  What a pain!

I was relegated to my iPhone to record today's activities...and I totally didn't mind.  I think people get the impression that only giant DSLRs are good enough for me, but I'm actually quite happy as long as I'm able to capture the memories somehow.

Morning hike:

Afternoon beach trip:

Evening inline skating:

Okay, the truth is that I would have loved to have used the DSLR instead by the end of the day.  Most of those action shots were so blurry and while I believe there is great artistry in slow shutter speed images, this was not one of those times I wanted to use said artistry.

16 July 2013

I hate crowds

Most who know me easily come to the conclusion that I love free events.  Like, REALLY love them.  But if there's a chance that it might be crowded, I will do my best to steer clear.

Rather than messing with community shows, we had our own little evening of fireworks.

It started late in the afternoon.  The boys would take turns playing with fire and chasing the dog away foe her own safety.

Finally starting to get dark...

I have a bazillion photos that look like this:

But I mostly enjoy the ones with the boys:

Independence Day at my cousin's tract carnival

I threw these patriotic ribbons onto the boys' bikes about 10 minutes before the parade.  I'm usually a holiday-themed decorating fiend, but I clearly failed here.

This made them happy.

This made them a little happier.

This made them super duper happy!