One of the joyful advantages of some time off is that I’ve had a chance to use my nice camera. In fact, I bought a digital photography book and have been reading it. Another nice thing is I actually have time to pull the pictures off in a timely manner. So here is three days worth of pictures (over 450 before I weeded them!).
The house is full of little boys yelling out “Wow! Cool!” and “Sticker help, mom!” Grey is on bag six of seven of the Lego Vampyre Castle, and Thane has completed “Spider-Man’s Doc Ock Ambush”, “Genosian Starfighter”, “Space Police” and is attempting to open “Droid Escape”. Suffice it to say, we’re having an amazingly awesome Christmas morning.
As I waited for the kids to fall asleep last night, I pulled some pictures off the camera. These include Grey’s Christmas concert and Christmas Eve at Grandma’s house with Cousin Alec!
So I’ve been terribly remiss getting my pictures up and on the computer. With very little preamble, let me present to you:
- Pictures from Justice’s funeral
- Many neighborhood babies
- Mr. Toothless
- Adam’s birthday game night
- Thane’s fourth birthday
- Leaf raking
- A trip to Plimouth Plantation (taken today, in unseasonably delightful weather)
So I got way behind on pictures for the summer. In one marathon session, watching the Olympics, I have brought them into LINE! Muahah! So here you go:
Pictures from York Beach in Maine, with babysitter, as referenced in the last post.
Pictures of a trip to see the Rampage, which I thought I’d posted but Picasa says I never did.
Father’s day, with kites.
Second camera pics from May, including camping and summiting Black Cap Peak.
Now my memory card and my conscience are both clear. Enjoy!
Thane has gone camping every summer of his life. He was born in October, and by the time his first May rolled around I decided that it was time to go camping! (As an aside: why did we NOT go camping for the 5 summers between graduation and having kids? What was I so busy doing? It’s a mystery.) I trundled the kids (and the pack ‘n’ play!) into a car and by gum, we went camping. His first camping trip was at nine months. We went camping when he was 18 months. And 27 months.
Last summer, my dearest husband and I began to wonder if we even liked camping (the answer being – we definitely like it by ourselves!) It was tough camping with such little kids. And as much as I love camping, it did require toughing. At 9 months, Thane wasn’t – you know – sleeping through the night. When he was 1, he would wake up at 5:45 hungry and bored. At 2, he still so desperately needed his naps and had such a miserable time taking them. There were the diapers. The constant vigilance. The sleep deprivation. The whining. By an objective measure, it wasn’t really… you know… fun. The kids were too small to swim unless we were physically holding them. Too small to go boating. Too small to go fishing. Too small to go for more than a mile-long leisurely hike. Too small to make them do the dishes. Sometimes camping was refreshing, or satisfying. There were glorious moments. It broke the tedium of every day the same. But by the time it was pack-up time, we were really ready to go.
But I had faith that if I just toughed it out, camping with my sons would eventually be awesome. I mean, I love camping. I love the tent. I love the smell of woodsmoke. I love the call of the loons on the lake. I love lying in a dewing field watching the stars come out. I love finding sticks for kindling, swimming, hiking, reading and discovering cool spiderwebs. I mean, isn’t this what having boys is supposed to be all about, this ecstasy of outdoorsiness? All I had to do was get to that moment – that trip – where it all clicked.
And folks, I’m here to tell you THIS WAS IT. We went camping this last weekend, and it was awesome. The weather was awesome. By dint of making reservations in January, we had a truly amazing camping spot. And the kids were so fun. We skipped naps. The kids slept until 8 am. They paid attention to our “how to make a fire” lecture. They entertained themselves. Grey rode a bike without training wheels for the first time. He read a chapter book. Thane used his “playing quietly by himself” skills. Grey swam without flotation devices, made friends, and periodically wandered back to the campsite to check in. Thane went the entire weekend without any potty training accidents. My sons summitted their first mountain (Black Cap Peak). It was just great. I sat by the fire, watching the water, listening to the loons on the lake, hanging out contentedly at the beach, and eating all the s’mores myself because for some reason my crazy children don’t like s’mores.
I’m sure not every camping trip will be this awesome, but this one really was. So for those of you wondering when it’s a good age to bring your kids camping… I vote for 3 and 9 months.
So I tackled the memory card issue today, in addition to getting a haircut. I have pictures of our Christmas celebration, and pictures of my brother’s ordination!
Here are photos of our Christmas:
And here are some really nice pictures of my brother’s ordination. It was an experience that merits its own blog post – we’ll see if that ever happens!
This weekend I tackled the gargantuan task of emptying both of my cameras of their memories. (This was a downside I had not anticipated of getting a “nice” camera. I still use my point and shoot, so I’ve basically doubled my work!) As a result, I now present you with a complete grab bag of pictures. These include:
- Buying a new car
- My brother’s graduation
- The carnival that came to town
- Our adventure walk
It’s been a while since I last gave you an update about what my boys were doing. Now that they’re both out of the “monthly” mode (and heck, my BLOG is practically at a monthly update level. I can’t tell you how much I miss writing more frequently!) it’s more challenging to highlight their growth.
With Grey, the big news is how big and capable he’s getting. I suppose there are a thousand steps on the road towards self-sufficiency, but each one is thrilling to a parent. For example, Grey has successfully:
- Gotten out bowls for he and his brother
- Gotten out cereal
- Poured the cereal in the bowls (without spilling)
- Gotten the milk out of the fridge
- Poured the milk on the cereal (without spilling)
- Gotten out spoons
- Brought spoons and cereal bowls over to the living room where the boys break their fast
If I could teach him to put the milk BACK, and combined with his terrifyingly acute control of the television apparatus, I might finally be able to sleep in on Saturday mornings!
The greatest new development for Grey, though, is around books. He had a great day today. He graduated levels in swimming class, ably making his way around the pool with limited bouyantical aid. He tested for his next belt in aikido, competently demonstrating Kata-tori Kokyu-nage, among other techniques. So I decided, while obtaining the requisite present for a birthday party tomorrow, I’d get him a new book. I hesitated, among the scant options in Target. The picture books all seemed a little simple. He’s been doing a great job reading lately. So instead, I picked up a simple chapter book The Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark. As we headed to the airport to drop grandma off (Bye grandma!), Grey set aside his DS in order to read.
An hour ago, sitting at my feet as I blogged, he finished the book, face flush with enjoyment and pride. He had read the last several chapters to himself, only the pace of page-turning a clue that every single word was getting its due. He really read it. Himself. It was his first full chapter book. I have a sneaking hunch that it will not be his last. (Possibly because he went to his room, pulled out about three other books, and read his favorite parts of them.)
A real reader! I have a real reader! We can read together! YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!
I fondly remember when my brother (who, by the way, will be graduating from Princeton Seminary this spring. If anyone’s looking for a nice Presbyterian Minister, let me know) began to read. I remember the conversation we older ones had, jealously laying out the wonderful books he would be able to read for the first time.
My youngest son has been no slouch in the “fun” department either. He loves books deeply. Unlike his brother, he’s willing to sometimes be in a different room than we’re in. I’ve seen him spend a good 45 minutes alone in his room, going through all his books. (Which usually leads to a several inch deep carpet of books in his room… the prices you pay!) Thane’s absolute favorite books in the entire world are the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series. This particularly excellent set of books doesn’t have generic, badly researched dinosaurs like so many of kiddo dino books do. Nor does it happily stop with the oligarchy of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus like the rest of them do. No, there’s some new ones in these books…. Comsognathus, Pachycephalusaurus, Tapejara. And Thane, although not yet potty trained, has complete mastery over this entire pantheon.
I think he likes to categorize things — to know the names and be able to identify things. Or maybe he just likes dinosaurs. He has finally mastered his letters and numbers. But I’ll be honest: I think he got the dinosaurs first.
As he plops his bottom down onto my lap, beloved “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You” in hand for the 9,234th time (demanding I identify each and every dinosaur on each and every page before reading the text – as if he doesn’t know), I admit that I’m caught between the desire for him to be an early reader too… and the desire to have many long year before me of “Mom, can you read this?”
Well, my fellow New Englanders, I did my best. I figured writing about the impending snow storm would make it, in the spirit of New England storms, become a non-event. Last night, as the hour for its arrival passed with a few errant snowflakes, I hoped.
It was not to be. Now, I try really hard not to complain about snow in New England in winter. (Or 100 degrees with 90% humidity in summer.) At least, no more than the standard complaints. But really. This is unacceptable. My husband I each put over two hours in shovelling our driveway out again. We had to carry snow across the street from the first shovelsful. It would’ve been a significant snowfall if it was the first of the year — maybe a little over a foot. But coming on top of existing berms, it was brutal. And you know, I consider that in the modern life, there are very tasks jobs where my gender matters. Hardly any really. But when the snow piles are 5 feet high, it turns out upper body strength is at a premium. I simply could not get the snow high enough for most of the locations, so I had to walk a long, long way carrying heavy snow to clear it.
I did, however, sneak in 5 minutes of pictures to show just how bad it was today. I was hoping to get all artistic and try out camera settings etc, but there was just Too. Much. Snow. As it was, I made it to work at the crack of 11 this morning. The only saving grace was that everyone else has to deal with the same snow.
Also, Grey has been successfully signed up for Kindergarten. It was rather anticlimactic. The woman at the front desk seemed very surprised that I’d actually read the web site, filled out the appropriate paperwork and had the needed documents already copied. Hopefully she favorably remembers me forever from now. Or at least for the, er, 7 years she and I will be BFFs.
(Takes a look at her camera memory card.) Hey, there are some other arty pictures here too, with me trying to figure out my camera. Fun! (OK, I admit it. I’m not feeling too hot. I have the uneasy sense that this blog post doesn’t have any coherence. That’s a classic combination for a picture post!)
This, my friends, is a perfect Christmas. We’re at my mother-in-law’s house… which is to say we’re completely spoiled. The place is all Christmasy. She has, at least count, six Christmas trees up, two full size and several smaller ones. She has about 6 batches of baked goods and every possible treat you can imagine. She also bought out several toy and clothing stores to outfit us. She told us not to pack anything… she had everything – and she does!
I spent this lovely hour today: my husband was watching Tron, the boys were down pretending to nap, the Christmas music was on, the fireplace was roaring and in an extremely unexpected turn of events, it was snowing. I sat on the couch, quiet, and read “The Dark is Rising”, which is my favorite Christmas book. It was an astonishingly lovely moment.
Anyway, for Christmas Santa Husband bought me a Digital SLR camera. I bought a photography book a while back and read it through. This permitted me to know exactly what my point and shoot could or could not do. It can actually do a lot. I use ISO all the time and I think it immeasurably improved my pictures. But there were things I couldn’t do: anything with detachable lenses and most importantly f-stops. I thought about it for about two years. But I decided: I wanted a real camera. So I told my husband and left him to do all the research on which one was best yadda yadda. My new camera is a Pentak DAL 18-55 mm F3.5 – 5.6 AL.
It’s my first non-point-and-shoot, so I’m probably not well qualified to review it. But I have spent, oh, about 24 hours with it now and taken over 300 pictures. It’s a leap of faith to record Christmas morning on your brand new camera (do you know how to take the lens cap off?) but we did it. Here are all the pictures, but let me call some out:
This here explains why I needed this camera. In a point in shoot, usually, most of the picture in the camera is sharp. That’s great – it means Aunt Agnes isn’t a blur (or everything is) – but it also leads to flatter pictures. Snapshots. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted more. So here is a “non flat” set of the same pictures:
And for your viewing pleasure, here’s a full set of Christmas pictures!.
PS – I have totally not figured out how to work my camera! But I’m looking forward to doing so!