Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why mommies cry at Christmas

 Talk about bittersweet.

Christmas morning, and it's time for us to read the Christmas Story.
And that means it's time for Skip to pull out an old paperback picture book.  Skip has been reading "This is the Star" to us on Christmas morning since we got the book when he was in Kindergarten.  And we always say "You're the oldest boy in the house, it's your job to read this book".  (In the past, Kelly's read "B is for Bethlehem", or some other original-Christmas-tale book, but Skip's reading of This is the Star is always first and foremost.)

But first... hey kids, I want a photo of the three of you in front of the tree.  How hard can that be?

So we're gathering around the tree, after the stockings have been emptied and enjoyed, and Skip looks up.
"So, better take some photos.  This is the last time I'll be doing this.  Next year, Nate will be the oldest boy in the house because I'll be living somewhere else, so he'll have to read it."  And then he turns to Nate and starts giving him a hard time about maybe coming back to help him sound out some of the bigger words.  And everyone is laughing.  Um.  Almost everyone.

Gah.  Knife. To. The. Heart.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

December 2012. It feels like yesterday

So here's what we were up to in December.  Sort of.

1. Kelly was invited by one of our young friends (and by young friends, I mean 20-something or 30-somethings) to join a folk dance troupe to dance at the big living nativity presentation that happens in the county seat every December.  Bethlehem AD is a pretty large undertaking, complete with camels and sheep and centurions.  She thought dancing in the street sounded like fun, so we signed her up, and the organizers asked me if I was ok not supervising her, because many  moms were more protective of their children.  I said "she's smart, and she's with grown-up friends, but if you want her chaperoned, I'm happy to hang around and photograph the event while it's open."  So they gave me a costume, and I ended up floating around the event, filling in where needed, and photographing.  It was the wettest December on record, and Bethlehem flooded on more than one occasion, but it was fun.

A friend of ours played the head rabbi.  It was fun.
Oh my, even Ken got in on the act.

also?  Camels!

2. Crazy street in San Carlos is crazy.  The lights get bigger every year.  And every year we have to go and look and feel inadequate about our own two-stranded half-baked decor.

3. I'm doing more photography with Google Plus.  I've met a bunch of great professionals and high-talent amateurs who are very welcoming, and willing to help teach me stuff.  I tag along, and try to make them laugh.  I went on a photowalk in early December, and basically took photos of the other photographers taking risky shots.  I called my album "The last time we ever saw [insert name here]" subtitled "Save the Gear!".  It was full of shots like this:  They all laughed.  I consider it a success.

4. Kelly made beaver tails for the winter concert bake sale fundraiser.

5.  I knit some Christmas gifts.

6. Jewel visited Nate's class.  And the mustaches got another work-out.

7. We had our small group over for a Christmas Cookie Decorating Evening.  It was there that I discovered that one of the young women thought it was a great idea to use her finger to mix frosting colors, and apply color with her wet finger.  Um... here you go, honey, you can take ALL the ones you decorated home with you.

8. One Sunday  morning, our church shut down so we could serve in the community.  The group we were involved with took over the church coffee house, and made two hundred bag lunches for one of the local shelters.  And we put home-made sugar cookies (decorated that morning) into each bag.

9. The classroom pets in second grade got out for a little visit.

10. Nate's class went to Alcatraz, and I chaperoned (and drove.  And paid for parking... through the nose)

And I think I will save Christmas for another episode.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I'm just a girl (photographer) who can't say "no".

 Coming down off of a whirlwind of photography for the schools.
Wish I got paid for some of this.  I'd be RICH!

Gig #1.  School dance.

Usually I do the photo-booth.  Kids pay a dollar for a print of a photo that they're in.  I print the photos for $0.09, so the school makes 90% profit.

(and the moustaches are still a hit)

I shouldn't say I don't get paid for this.  My friend's son is on the yearbook committee and was supposed to go to the dance and take photos.  He decided it was 'lame' and didn't go, so my friend made him PAY ME FOR PHOTOS, for the yearbook.  OF course, I only charged him $20, but that stings when you're 13.
And I toyed with blackmail photography... but only for a moment. :)

Gig #2:  Elementary School Musical Variety Show.
This is my last year at my kids' elementary school.  Kelly was DEEP into the variety show when she was here, but neither boy has wanted anything to do with it.  That's ok by me.  But I keep involved by photographing it for the fundraiser.
So I photographed the Technical Rehearsal...

(really, I photograph this so I get an idea of what the various acts will involve, so I'm less likely to miss something on stage during the real event.  Like this... blurry kid, but now I know what he's going to be doing on stage.  of course, that presumes that the stage will be actually LIT, so we can see what they're doing during the show, but that's a different thing all together.  But I digress)
And then I photographed the Dress Rehearsal...

And Opening Night...

And the Grand Finale...

And then I took my 5,000 photos, and I went home and culled and edited for three straight days and my eyeballs dried out, and then put the photos up on the school photo-fulfillment website and crossed my fingers that the school would actually make some money from this.  Last year, I think they made about $1600.
The lighting stunk in the theater this year.  I processed a number of shots in monochrome just to salvage what I could from a bad situation.  But I had a few other shooters who got a few good shots, too, so I'm pretty sure we have all the kids covered.

Gig #3.  Floating Kids

So I found this cool tutorial online from Dustin Thompson Photography, and went a little bit crazy.
Floating kids!  What's not to love?

Well, it's all fun and games until you think "This would make a great Mother's Day Craft project for my friend's second grade class", so you offer to take 'floating kids of 25 second graders...

And then the 5th grade girls see you with balloons and say "Mrs Parker!  That looks like fun!  Can we do it too?" and you check with the 5th grade teachers, and they think  it's a great idea, so you photograph 65 fifth grade students...

And then the class mom hears about what you've done, and wants to see if she can use the photos for the Promotion Ceremony.  Fine... except that she's disappointed that you've not used the colours that she's chosen (IN HER MIND) for the promotion colour scheme for the balloon arch, so could you re-shoot all the kids and re-edit the photos?  And you say "Above my pay grade" and she says "What about changing the balloon colors on the computer.  Surely you can do that?" and you say sure and send her this:

And she says "Well, that's pretty close... what if you photoshopped graduation gowns on them, and a graduation cap with a tassel?"
And you say "I'm going to pretend you didn't say that." and you go off so your head can quietly explode as you think about the hours that it will take you with your COMPLETE LACK OF PHOTOSHOP SKILLZ to change the colour of 5 balloons times 65 students.

Ah well.

Oh!  Gig #4.  Insect photography.

My 2nd grade teacher friend got hissing cockroaches for the class.

On Friday, I went in to tutor, and discovered that Ike (they're a pair, and all of her class pets are named after famous (or infamous) Black Americans, so the cockroaches are Ike and Tina) was molting, so instead of working with literacy, I watched Ike molt while the kids watched youtube videos of hissing cockroaches.  Impromptu entomology lessons FOR THE WIN!

Before Ike molted, he was the same size as Tina.  That's quite the size jump with a single molt.

I still need to go back and chat about December.

And January.

And February.

Eek, and MARCH.

But soon I'll be chatting about our latest adventures with OUR NEW FRENCH EXCHANGE STUDENT.

Monday, April 01, 2013

The future

So it's *almost* official.

Skip will be a Materials Science Engineering student come September.  And New York is a long, long way away.

I guess I better start teaching him stuff like 'how to do your own laundry' and  'how to set up your phone so it will wake you up in the morning because your mother is not going to college with you' and 'how to use a bank machine because there MIGHT come a time when you will have to buy something for yourself, and you won't have money stashed away in the pocket of your sleeve, and THEN what will you do?"

So many things to teach.  Such little time.

Friday, February 01, 2013

November 2012. Part the second.

More bullets from November 2012.

1. I was sicker than a dog on my birthday, but that didn't stop me from being persuaded to go to my favourite winery for a wee bit of tasting and buying with two girlfriends (Ken kindly offered to be the designated driver).

2. The kids got me a variety of fancy chocolate bars for my birthday.  The boys started mooing over the fact that I wasn't eating their favourite one, and when was I going to break into it, so they could 'test' it too.  finally, I said "You may have one square of the magnificent bar... **IF** you can extract that square from the center of the bar without breaking it.  If anything breaks... you lose, and I get the whole thing.
So Skip got to work, surgically extracting his square from the center of the bar.

Ta Da!

3. Nate's class did an Iron Chef day, where they break into teams, and then make a few 'dishes' using secret ingredients.  I was glad I hired on to be the photographer, and not the judge. Heh.  But Nate looked dapper in my fabulous Canadian Apron.

4. We went to our neighbours' place for Thanksgiving, and it was so easy and lovely.  No rushing around.  No mental preparations.  Just good food with great friends.  Of course, we brought food.  Nobody went hungry!

And we brought games...

Kelly has such great friends.  (yes, it's Martinelli's sparkling apple juice)

5. Thanksgiving Weekend wouldn't be complete without a trip to the beach.

6. Another basketball game. Another loss.  But another chance for Kelly and her friends to bond as a team, and exhibit fantastic sportsmanship.  I am constantly impressed at how easy-going her team is when things aren't completely smooth, and how uptight the opponents seem to be under the same circumstances.

7. There were some amazing sunsets in November.

And that brings us up to December.  Today might be the day I delve into that pile of memories.  Although it will have to wait.  Time for church, and afterwards, I'm taking Skip off to Berkeley, so he can walk around and get a feel for the place. Of course, he still doesn't know if he's going to be going there, but he's hopeful.