Friday, October 30, 2015

Project 52 - Moods - Week 43


Thursday was a good day and a bad day in this house. Riley is sometimes a little fussy after getting home from school and this was one of those days, but after a little food and downtime we had a good evening filled with making ghosts to hang on the house and explaining what cursive is (my writing is a combo of print and cursive and she wanted to know how to do it). It was nice.

We even took pictures so I could practice shooting with kelvin white balance. I've done it before, but took an online course of sorts recently that got me to think I should try it in my house where the auto white balance never really gets it right. Riley's used to me taking her picture so we had some fun with it as well.

After picture time we watched a bunch of funny cat videos in honor of National Cat Day. We were both cracking up. We were having fun.

But then bedtime came. I'm sure she was just over tired, but she was aggressive and then pouty and then just wouldn't listen. Not my usual happy girl. There was crying and then sobbing. Jesse and I made multiple trips to her bedroom. We talked about our feelings and how feeling tired can make us feel sad or irritated. She needed more snuggles than usual and we were willing to give them.

After she was settled, I decided to edit the pictures I took. The white balance looked much better using kelvin, but as I played around with them, I realized a black and white photo felt appropriate. Not so much because it's moodier, but because it seemed to focus on her emotion. It cut out all the other distractions. I loved this picture because she was connected with me (or the camera) and she seems content... and I know she was happy when I took the picture.

In the morning she was better, but she told me she almost starting crying after I left her the night before. She also asked "what if I'm always sad, that the sad never goes away". I wanted to assure her that wouldn't happen, but I know it does. I once felt that way and I want to help her avoid that as much as I can.

On Friday, I attended her school for a Halloween party. I wasn't feeling my best and wanted to stay home, but I was glad I went as she was delighted to see me. While there I ran into an aide for one of the other kindergarten classes. Riley knew her as she subbed in at her preschool over the summer. The aide shared that Riley was always happy and gives her a big hug every day. It was comforting to hear, but also something I already know. She's a normal kid with normal feelings, but this kindergarten stuff can be a little hard. It's no surprise that she fussed a bit again tonight at bedtime and then fell promptly asleep.

It may take awhile to adjust so I guess it's just extra cuddles in the meantime. That's something I can totally do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bridal Shower

I just realized I never posted this! Better later than never...

My co-worker, Maggie, recently asked me to photograph her sister, Lauren's, bridal shower. I was honored to do so and a little nervous, but I think things turned out well. Maggie and Lauren have a lovely family and I think my daughter, looks wise, would fit in better with this family than in my own. So many blondes!

I took an obnoxious about of pictures and whittled them down to just over 100, but here are just a few of those.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Project 52 - Letters - Week 42


It's amazing how interesting an item is when it's been hidden away for awhile and then is put it in the donate pile. Riley doesn't need a lot of practice writing letters, but she was content this past Saturday morning to write her uppercase and lowercase letters for a significant amount of time once she found out we were going to give these books away.

I'm usually a get up and go person, but I do like an easy going morning from time to time (especially since I am still fighting this virus). Actually, I did get up and go this morning and then needed a break. So while Riley was busy doing this, I laid on the couch and watched some wild animal shows on TV. We chatted about the animals and she started drawing pictures along side her letters.

Later, Riley would be heading off to her grandparents for the weekend so it was nice to just hang out and chat. The rest of the weekend was busy with yard work and some additional maintenance on my rental, but Jesse and I did get the opportunity to go out to lunch by ourselves and we even went to a movie.

When Riley returned from her grandparents we ran off to a birthday party for a new (boy) friend from kindergarten. Peyton was having a shared party with his best (girl) friend from preschool. His mom told me that he came home from school one day and told her that he thought he'd done something bad because he made friends with a girl. Apparently, he thought he could only have one girl friend. Lol.  Oh, and later when the kids were scrambling to sit down at the table for treats, Peyton kept looking around and when he finally eyed Riley he ran towards her and tried to find them seats next to each other. And to think, this all started because Riley shared some toys with him on the first day of school. Kids are so cute.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Project 52 - Mississippi River -Week 41


I took the day off of work on Thursday Since Riley didn't have school. We spent some time in Northeast Minneapolis down by the Mississippi River. We had a bunch of errands to run, but I wanted to do something off the beaten path with my girl. We tried to have a picnic nearby, but the area with the picnic tables was cold and windy.

We quickly ate, but I still wanted to show Riley this hidden bridge that I thought she'd get a kick out of before we left. As we headed to the bridge, Riley noticed another path that led to an area below the bridge and wanted to explore. Love this kid's adventurous spirit in these sorts of moments.

We walked down to the river in an area that I'd never actually explored before. It was a rough patch of a beach - a place where people come after dark I imagine. But for us, it was a nice little spot filled with rocks for throwing in the river.

Riley loves throwing rocks in water and could have stayed here for hours. We may have too if it was a little warmer and we didn't have other things to accomplish for the day. I promised her we'd come back with her dad and explore the area even more. Days like this make me wish we had all the time in the world to explore and go on adventures together.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Photography Inspiration

Recently, I've been feeling a little frustrated with my photography. I know I've grown a lot over the last couple years, but I'm feeling a little stalled. I think part of it was comparing myself to others instead of just recognizing my strengths. I also had my first official paid session, a bridal shower, (pictures for that to come soon) and even though I didn't charge that much I started to doubt that I was worth it.

Doubt can accelerate fast, so I was glad that a few days before the photo session, ClickAway was streaming video sessions. ClickAway is a photography conference put on every year by ClickinMoms, an inspirational group of hobbyist and professional photographers that I have learned a wealth of information from. I would love to go sometime, but for now I appreciate that they stream some of the sessions so I can learn a few things from afar. Some of the sessions are on location photo shoots teaching tips and tools, and others are on a variety of topics such as editing, messages behind photography, using social media, etc. 

This year there were two sessions that stood out to me - in the sense that I was really moved by them (yes, they brought me to tears). One was by Sue Bryce and the other by Jesh de Rox. Sue's session was called Finding Beauty and Jesh's session was Anything is Possible: Intro to the work of Moment Design. Both talked about themes of value in yourself and others, and how to look at the world and people in different ways. They relayed messages that applied to all facets of life and it helped me feel stronger, more confident, and hopeful. There were other sessions that I found inspirational as well. Candice Zugich talked about emotionally driven photography. She taught me about posing people, and inspired me since she only uses a 35mm lens (my favorite).  Kate Parker talked about developing an artistic voice - something I've always admired about her Strong is the New Pretty series she has showing young girls as strong, and smart, and varied in their interests.

So when it came time to photograph Lauren's bridal shower I was feeling way more confident. I've never felt great about posing people, but I was able to provide guidance this time and one of the guests even commented that I was a professional. Ha. I was hired by my co-worker, Maggie, to shoot her sister's shower, but she asked if I could take a few pictures of her and her husband, Mike, as well. Of course I would! We only stepped away for a few minutes, but I was able to try out some of the new techniques I learned in the days before. Not everything worked. I'm still not good at simply posing people and getting genuine emotion out of them, but other techniques worked great and I can't wait to try them out again.

We started with some simple facing the camera poses. There were houses surrounding us so it was hard to avoid that, but the first one show a house more than others. Wish I would have caught that, but my husband assures me that it's not distracting and most people won't care. For me it's a reminder to be aware of ALL the details.

Then I tried posing them like Candice suggested. It was awkward and I wasn't sure how to get it to feel more natural. At least Mike gave his wife a forehead kiss and that helped, but again, I need more practice on this.

And then I tried one of Jesh's techniques. He calls them 'expression invites', but really it's just asking them to do something or asking them questions that evoke an emotional response. So you could have your couple stand away from each other and simply walk towards each other with their eyes closed to meet with a kiss. Or you may have one of them whisper something naughty in the other's ear. I had Maggie and Mike face each other and say something about each other using one word at a time back and forth for about 30 seconds. It resulted in this...

We really just snuck outside for about 10 minutes, but it would have been fun to try some of the other 'expression invites' with them. Later, Maggie approached me and told me how much she enjoyed what I did with her and Mike. She noted that in past photography sessions they've been told to pose certain ways and it sometimes feels awkward, but this just felt natural. And if felt so much more natural for me too. I am now feeling inspired to learn more about it and to put them to practice.

And the best part of all of this is I'm feeling that little spark again.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day in the Life - Fall 2015

I decided to do this Day in the Life on a day I was sick, but it was hard to avoid since I've been sick for a couple weeks. I didn't take any notes that day and am finally writing it up about a week later so we'll see how accurate it is. Luckily, I took lots of pictures to help trigger my memory. Thanks to Julia at My Life in Transition for hosting the Day in the Life Round up.

Sunday 10/4/15
Riley is 5 and three quarters
Jesse is 40 and I'm 43
Lucy (the cat) is 12

9:35 - The night before, I went to bed a little earlier than usual. I've had a virus for over a week and thought it was going away, but I'm pretty sure I have a sinus infection now (sinuses hurt, head hurts, teeth hurt...). I wake a little after 11:00, but barely remember it as I fall back to sleep fast.

1:53, 3:05, and 5:59 - I wake multiple times which isn't that out of the norm for me, but it's usually once or twice and technically this would be three times before I finally wake for the day just before 6. The only reason I get out of bed at this time is because Riley is yelling from across the hall that "it's 6!". I get up and shuffle to her room. I fall into her bed and announce that I am doing my day in the life post and she bounds out of bed, turns on the light, and starts snapping pictures with my camera after I first get a shot of her.

The light is so bright I can't even open my eyes. The burning!

Most of her pictures are blurry so I won't post them here, but it was nice of her to assist me in getting pictures. We go downstairs and I set her up with her 'non-breakfast' food request of a cheese stick, apple, and tortilla.

6:35 - Riley eats and draws or does some sort of art picture. She always asks for TV in the morning, but I make her do something else. I do some morning stuff including picture editing. I went on a photo walk the day prior and have a bunch of pictures to go through. Eventually, I eat breakfast while Jesse comes downstairs and then proceeds to the basement to play a video game. It's a generally lazy Sunday morning. Normally, we'd likely be getting ready to go to the gym, but we have plans to hit to corn maze as soon as they open at 10:00 and I'm not up for gym activity so we laze around.

8:07 - I go upstairs and notice a small spot of cat puke next to the bed. I clean it up, but think it's odd that there isn't more and then I look at the bed. Gah! Cat puke on the duvet, the throw, and the puke has seeped through to the comforter. I clean it up and throw everything into the laundry basket to bring downstairs when I almost step in another pile of puke near the closet. Good God, cat - what did you eat? I bring everything down to the laundry and start that unanticipated task.

I head back upstairs to pick out Riley and my clothes for the day and realize that I need a rest. I'm just not feeling my best, but want to make the most of this day so I lay down in bed and turn the TV on. Ahhh, me time.

And then two minutes later Riley and Lucy join me because apparently I'm not allowed to be alone. Riley brings up the iPad which I've allowed her to play with and for some reason the sound won't work on any of her games so she starts playing with this meditation app where the sound does work. It's supposed to be soothing sounds like the ocean, birds, the wind, etc... but when you have 12 of them playing at once, not so much.

Lol - scary cat. 

I go downstairs to shower and find Jesse cleaning the house. Once out of the shower, we all get dressed and I pack up some snacks to take with us.

9:45 - We get out the door a little later than anticipated and stop at the bank for cash on the way to Sever's Corn Maze. We've pre-purchased the tickets online, but know cash will come in handy. We get to the corn maze a little after 10:00 and proceed to spend over 3 hours here. The time goes fast and we don't get to see everything, but I was ready to go home when we did.

We started with hugging pumpkins and walking through the 'Gourd Walk' and then headed into where all the fun is.


This place is expensive - we saved a dollar on each ticket, but still spent $42 for the three of us. That doesn't include food and some potential extras like the $2 per slide ride (we did 3 of them). Oh, and we bought some apples and honey on the way out. But, it really does have a lot that you can do and Riley loves it. We started with the air pillows....

Then moved on to the corn pit which Jesse actually joined in for the first time and was sold on how fun it is...

Corn gets everywhere

We followed this by climbing on the kid train, playing at the playground, and then going on the super slide a couple times...

Of course, we had to do the hay bale maze which everyone just runs on top of...

And then it was time for a break. We ate corn dogs and corn on the cob while listening to the band play and we discovered that they have instruments for the kids to play as well.

Next up was the corn maze. Usually, Riley doesn't care for this and just wants to go back into the corn pit, but we had to pull her out of the maze this year. It was probably about this time that my head started killing me. I took some cold meds before we left thinking they would help give me some pep, but I think they turned on me and just made me feel crappier. Plus, the day before on the photo walk my thigh muscles seized up (weirdly, they often do this on days I work my biceps at the gym - myofascial is interesting) and they were bothering me this day too.

There was a firefighter theme this year and you were supposed to find all 26 signs. We probably found about half and if it was up to Riley we would have found all of them.

From the maze we headed up to the bridge to view from above, checked out the firetruck where a boy pushed in front of Riley while she was trying to get in the front seat. I want Riley to be more aggressive, but glad she wasn't like that boy. I wanted to scold him, but just gave him a look instead. How do you deal with that stuff when it's some stranger's kid?

And finally, we went to check out some of the animals. Next year, we decided that we'd start on the other side so we could see the pig races, magic show, pony rides, and check out the other corn pit which looks like it has some hanging bars and other things to play on in it.

Oh, and Riley and Jesse went down the slide one more time before we left. Riley wanted me to go on it, but those suckers are fast and scare me. 

1:40 -  We arrive home and Jesse eats a salad (he skipped the corn dog at the maze) and Riley has a snack before rest time. I swap out some laundry and ten minutes later I decide to take a nap. I feel like crud. I grab my sleep mask and head to the guest room since I don't have any bedding on my bed.

3:35 - I wake and realize Riley has fallen asleep during her rest time too. I turn on the Vikings game while I prep making apple crisp with the apples we got at Severs. Riley wakes and I get the apple crisp in the oven and clean up the disaster in the kitchen.

5:45 - I have no recollection of what we ate for dinner, but I do remember watching the last of the game at the dinner table so I will assume I was eating at that time. After dinner, I continue to edit photos while Riley plays or watches some TV.

6:00 - Jesse just bought Riley a game that is apparently the kid version of an grown up game so Riley and I play this. He hoped it would have more strategy to it, but it really doesn't. It's a pretty simple game that is fun for it's ease, but I wish it had a couple more rules to it (maybe good for a 3 or 4 year old). Even so I will take playing board games over playing pretend. Ten minutes of pretend is harder for me than hours of Candyland. Guess I do best with rules. However, since this game is so simple we start to make up some rules which gets a little too close to pretend. Actually, the problem comes in when Riley gets frustrated that I don't understand her unspoken rules. I tried, but after about 6 rounds of this game I was done. While we were playing, Jesse attempted to master his new Lord of the Rings board game. He's been playing this game by himself nightly all week and finally 'won' later in the week. I think you are supposed to play this game with others, but what do I know.


6:56 - While Riley gets on her PJ's, I bring up the laundry and put the bed back together. Putting a king sized duvet on a comforter is a little like torture, but I accomplish it without too much frustration.

Once the bed is made and Riley's brushed her teeth, we settle in for book reading. We select Llama Llama Home with Mama which seems fairly fitting based on how I feel. Luckily, my head feels way better, but my teeth and sinuses still ache. Riley insists on helping with taking pictures (of every page of the book).

Before I head downstairs she picks out a book to read on her own. She sometimes reads four or five books, but I think she may have been out after reading just one.

7:25 - I head downstairs and dish myself up some apple crisp to eat while editing a few more pictures and watching Grace and Frankie. I had no intention of watching this show, but I had a couple people recommend it. It's ok. I'd watch a second season, but I'm still having a hard time believing that the President from the West Wing and the attorney from Law and Order are gay lovers. I just can't get their previous roles out of my head.

9:08 - I head upstairs and read some of my book, The Boys in the Boat. I'd recommend it.

9:45 - I'm tired. Time to go to sleep.I sleep ok, but it feels like my sinus infection might be breaking up a little bit. I have a bad sore throat all night and wake with a scratchy voice and a cough which leads me into the next phase of my virus.

It's a week later as I finally finish writing this and I still feel a little cruddy, but also feel like I am finally starting to turn a corner. It's about time. :)