15 September 2013

Musician portrait session

My little cousin just graduated high school and wants to build a YouTube presence and start putting together a website to showcase his music.  He needed some images for both of these ventures so I trekked him up the hills and we made these:

I took the boys and the dog with us.  Guess which two were pleased about the hike and which two were not:

No worries though.  Some mandatory play and A2 was back to his goofy self!

Things I'm quitting

Who can tolerate post after post of children frolicking in the sunshine with sand between their toes and not a worry in their heads?  It's September and any mildly fun activity must cease.  Let the drudgery begin!

I'm going to start this school year by making empty promises to myself and aiming for lofty, utterly unreachable heights by clearing my plate of that which is extraneous.  (Shyeah...right.)

My annual dues to MOMS Club were to be posted this month.  An undue amount of waffling later, I have decided that, after 6 years, it's finally time to let go.  I don't know most of the members in the Club any more and the boys are always the oldest ones at the events.  It's probably a long overdue decision but it carries with it the realization that my babies are anything but babies.  It also means that I've found my footing as a full-time stay-at-home mom and no longer need to rely on this lovely group to help me wrestle with all the issues inherent to being a new mom.

Two people just contacted me last Monday to schedule their Christmas family shoots.  I've kindly notified them that I'm no longer in business.  I let my website **poof** out of existence a few weeks ago and in October, my photo storage and delivery subscription will also run out.  That I'm busiest during Autumn, my favorite season, makes no sense.  There's no reason to pile more responsibilities onto an already hectic pre-Christmas season.  I'd rather make gingerbread houses with the boys.  Besides, every year, I am pummeled into a teary, shivering heap of migraine-ridden pathetic-ness.  I had an extremely restricted season last year and...voila...no migraines.  Let's make it two years in a row!

I've made cutbacks on my Scouting responsibilities.  I've designed an "out" by preparing the older Den that we may split if our numbers continue to rise.  We had 10 Wolves by the end of the school year and that was simply too many!  Also, rather than being the sole provider of snacks to both Dens, I've put the Bear families on a rotating snack schedule and I'm not going to provide snacks during the Go-See-It field trips for the Tigers.  I'm also going to ask someone to be our Pack representative at the Roundtable meetings so that I'm not the one to do it--evening meetings are the worst for me!  I don't even want to go out for fun after the sun goes down, why would I want to exit the house for a tedious responsibility?

Classroom duties will also be curtailed.  When I don't have an official title, I tend to come in extremely frequently and lose my entire day in the classroom.  While I don't yet know my responsibilities in the 3rd grade classroom, I'm now the designated 1st grade PE parent (about 4 hours every week), Garden Master (random trainings, garden duties, and once monthly garden visitations with the class), Art Master (in-service training and classroom teaching every other month), and class photographer (I'm only responsible for yearbook images, not day-to-day candid images).  Now, this may seem like a lot, but the discrete nature of these responsibilities absolves me of guilt when I say no to other requests that spontaneously arise throughout the year.  I've already declined several 1st grade tasks because I deliver other services to the class. Yippee!

As far as schoolwide responsibilities are concerned, I'm done with those photo rosters.  I've already completed the ones for the boys' classrooms and another for the lovely Kindergarten teacher both the boys had and that's it!  Finito!  They are a headache I don't need to shoulder.  I've also checked off the grant writing box on the PTO survey, and as much as I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to engage in this activity, I know my limits and will not do it unless I work alone or can pick my own committee members.  I'm very much a team player and truly enjoy the collaborative process that only a group of passionate, dedicated people can foster.  That means I hate slackers.  A lot.

Okay, I'm still coaching soccer even though I promised not to do it any more after last year.  That sort of stinks, but at least A2 is having a great time out there on the field and I'm getting some much needed exercise.  Besides, the soccer season is very short!

Unrelated pics of our final days before school at an Angels game and taking my mother, grandmother, and uncle ice skating follow:

And here are the boys on their first day of school.  I was a minimum day so we went to the beach afterward to soak in the last of summer vacation.

02 September 2013

Any time is pool time

Last night, the boys didn't care that the sun had set.  They didn't care that it was bedtime.  And as it turned out, neither did I.  Who can resist a pink sky?

Backyard camping

It may have been our guilt at having left the kids to go to the Black Sabbath concert two nights before, but when they asked to camp in the yard, we were quick to comply.  We had a blazing fire even though it was about a thousand degrees out.

Pushy photographer

It's just about impossible to get a group of kids this big to stand together unless you want it...unless you work for it.  In the moment, I always feel so aggressive in my photo demands, but I'm always so happy to have the shot afterwards.

What made this trip amazing were the awesome friends.  What made this trip suck were the awesome friends telling me that we're likely pushing our school year around so that we'll end late June next year, but resume by August 11.  That means only six weeks for an abbreviated summer next year.  Boo!!!

Making memories

I know a time will come when their lives will veer off in different directions.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Of course, they will pursue their various interests, both personal and professional.  But I do hope with all my heart that they fondly think back to lazy days on deserted beaches with each other.  I hope that they remember their collectively made up stories and secrets and all the villains they fought off as a part of their imaginary super hero duo.

Transplantation and roots

I moved around so much as a kid.  Half way around the world, in fact.  Even after we got to the States, I went from East to West coast and then all over Orange County. 

James, who lived in the same house from the time he was born until graduate school, has a circle of friends that primarily come from infancy!  I always wanted to give that kind of stability to the boys so it's really lovely to see them with preschool friends to whom I hope they remain close throughout their lives.

A2 and friend swishing about in the breaking waves.

A1 and friend running. Whether it's toward the ocean or merely away from my camera, I can't tell.

Here are all three of them throwing clumps of sand at the friend's very patient dad.

DSLR love

I've been cheering and chanting my iPhone love, especially since its size has allowed me to snap so many beach shots.  The one time I lugged the big body out almost didn't happen, but I figured with the quickly setting sun, I'd have to have better gear to grab low-light images.

Um...yeah--no contest.  I lurve these clean, colorful DSLR captures.

This one was after the horizon swallowed up the sun.  A fast lens means I can get A2 mid-air with no blur.  And the modern full frame body means no detectable noise.  Wow, I didn't know how much I'd missed my giant camera!

Beach day with Grandma

I dragged my mother out with us one day.

I finally got in a pic with the boys!  But it's from reeeeeeally far away.  Ha!

Get it right, Mama

I was informed that a hole is not properly dug until I strike water. 

Oh no, go catch a wave or two.  Sure, I'll keep working on the hole while you're gone.  (Yeah, not so much.)

Two more days

These are images of the boys jumping in the ocean from weeks ago, but as of this writing, there are actually only two more days of summer break.  I really resent all the so-called funny images and quotes about exasperated parents who are counting the seconds until their kids are ushered off to school.  I have so thoroughly enjoyed every little bit of this summer.  And I'm awfully sad that it's coming to an end.  I have repeatedly tried to explain that I'm in The Zone, wherein the kids are independent enough to take care of themselves in so many ways, but I'm still cool enough that they are equally happy to hang out with either friends or with their dear old mother.  Besides, I'm far busier during the school year with my various volunteer duties than I am during the relaxed summer break.

I mean...really, why would I trade this for 6 hours of being stuck in a classroom?

Beach bums

I overdid it with various camps last year so I've made up for that mistake by doing nearly nothing on a schedule this summer.  Most of our time has been occupied by frequent beach trips.  I try to snap a shot or two when I get to it, but it's much more fun just to dig in the sand or play in the surf with the kids.

Though we've had these boogie boards in our garage for quite some time, it wasn't until this day at the beach that the boys finally decided it was time to try them out.  The waves were small and very welcoming for first timers.

The beach is always nicer with friends!  And ring pops.

Photo delivery relief

I'm neurotic about losing data so I can't shoot small JPGs.  That means I'm relegated to the bulk of RAW files which really shouldn't be left to their devices, even if all they need is a quick resizing for web use. 

I've been sitting on a set of preschool photos since...well...since A2 was actually registered in preschool.  Clearing them off my plate has been such a huge relief.  I know I'm a broken record, but quitting the business component (My website is officially offline: Yay!) of photography has been amazing!  Now I finally get to process my own images. 

Here's a pic I found of A2 and his preschool pod, which was comprised of 2 individual classrooms:

The boys are holding their Summer Bridge workbooks that they completed.  3rd to 4th Grade for A1 and 1st to 2nd Grade for A2--I find that I have to pick up the following year's text to review the previous year.  Strange.

A2's underwater camera is used to show the boys pretending to punch each other with such force that it leaves the recipient flying backwards.

Wonder Twin powers activate!

The boys and James rolling their carry-ons on the way back to Cali:

The dog like to elevate herself whenever possible.