December 20, 2010 by
I can’t think of eighth grade without thinking of Amy. As cheesy as Anne Shirley’s term “kindred spirits” might be, it really is the best description of the kind of relationship Amy and I had. Sometimes it was spooky how connected Amy and I were. We could finish each other’s thoughts. She would call me when I had my hand on the phone to dial her number. We spent every minute possible together, and if we weren’t together then we were either on the phone or writing each other letters. I met Amy in 7th grade and by 8th grade we were BFFs (even though that term didn’t exist back then).
I have too many memories with Amy to list. Strangely, one of the memories that sticks out in my mind (though this memory was probably later than 8th grade) was stopping by a store to buy some candy together. Apparently, I payed for the candy, and the cashier responded “Oh, letting Big Sister pay today?” to Amy. We laughed and laughed about that, because Amy was 11 months older than I was.
Amy and I had lots of adventures together, including getting concert tickets and back stage passes to the Bon Jovi New Jersey concert. The concert was amazing, but wearing those backstage passes was one of the greatest thrills I’d ever experienced. We waited backstage after the concert for quite a while, cameras ready. Finally, an official-looking guy came into the room and let us know that the band would not be joining us backstage that night. They were celebrating Jon’s very recent wedding privately (apparently, he got married the day before). What a let-down!
I moved away in the middle of 10th grade, but Amy and I continued to talk and write letters for years. We don’t live in houses next door to each other with connected back yards, but we are both mothers of five kids and still kindred spirits.
Who was your best friend growing up?
December 6, 2010 by
I keep hearing people murmur about the TSA getting tougher and tougher on travelers. I admit — I was a little nervous about my recent travel to Costa Rica. Security seems to get a little more strict and a little more time-consuming each time I get on a plane. I’m always worried that I will forget something important, and having to take my shoes, jacket, and belt off is a chore I don’t particularly enjoy.
For the record, full-body scans don’t bother me. Pat-downs don’t phase me. And, yes, I got both during my travels in November.
And I do recognize the purpose for the tightened security measures. As a resident of Washington DC during the 9-11 attacks, I am grateful for the new regulations.
When they work.
And that’s where the TSA-fail comes in.
CandyMan and I were going through security at a large US airport, preparing to fly out of the country. He was concerned that all of the computer, video, and networking equipment in his large carry-on bag would be a problem in security, so he was prepared for a thorough search.
His large bag made it through just fine, though they did stop to test his contact solution to make sure it was really contact solution.
He passed through the scanner and met his bags on the other side of the belt, only to realize that his large set of keys, with remote control and metal karabiner, were still in his pocket. He pointed the fact out to the lady inspecting his contact solution, and mentioned that it was disturbing to him that his keys had not set off the metal detector. She remarked that it was odd that his keys had not been detected, and said that it might be because he was “small” and might have been “too far away from the scanner.”
CandyMan stowed his keys in a carry-on, collected the rest of his bags, put his shoes back on, and we proceeded to the gate.
We walked away from security feeling rather UNsecure. If WE just walked through the metal detectors with some innocently forgotten metal, what other items were being slipped through, undetected?
Just something to think about.
November 16, 2010 by
My life in 4th grade were composed mostly of three main things: ballet, piano, and writing.
I never considered myself a stellar piano player. I could read music and play the notes, and that’s about it. I loved writing stories, though, and considered story telling one of my childhood talents. My favorite story was entitled “The Alligator and the Eight Children” and ended with all eight siblings in the story falling off a bridge and being eaten by a hungry alligator. I was so proud of that book. I was also thrilled when my story, “My Friend,” was recognized at my elementary school and I was selected to attend a children’s writer’s conference at DeAnza College.
As much as I loved it, by the time I was nine ballet was beginning to take over my life. I had auditioned for the studio’s traveling company and was accepted into the exclusive group. I was in lessons (including alternate days of flaminco dancing) six days a week and was transitioning early to pointe.
My mom asked me during that year if I loved ballet enough to make it my life focus–a huge thing for a nine year old to have to decide. The road I was heading down was the road of a professional ballerina. I had no time left over for being social – for being a kid. I was already at the studio most of the week, and it was only going to get busier.
I chose to quit altogether.
I felt a tinge of regret for leaving ballet behind for many years. In fact, it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I had a sense of closure and peace about ballet. I decided I would revisit my dancing days and enrolled in a ballet class. While I did very well, I no longer loved it. I finished the class and was finally able to close the book on my ballet days.
Granted, ballet is still part of me and always will be. I will probably always do Pliés and leg exercises while I’m brushing my teeth.
I’m recording my youth, one year per week. Come back next week to find out what life was like in 5th grade (age 10).
November 9, 2010 by
Statement of Adoptive Parent
April 8, 1983I desire to adopt Laura for several reasons. The foremost reason is that I have come to love Laura as I love my own children. I am concerned for her welfare and well being. I share her joys of success and sadness of failure. Another reason for her adoption is that I want to support Laura in a legal sense but also in an emotional sense. I want her to know that she is a part of our family as are our other children. I want her to be aware of my commitment to her, both legal and emotional.Laura is a beautiful child. She is pretty and intelligent. She is fully aware that she has two fathers (her natural father died when she was 2 1/2 years old). His death was sad and is difficult for her to understand though time has helped her reorder her life. I want to complete her family order and continue the healing process that has helped her to feel secure and loved. I request that I be allowed to adopt Laura and care for her as my own.~My Dad
This is the chapter of my life that I’ve been waiting to write about. The year that I turned eight was life-changing for me. Not only was I baptized, but I was adopted by my dad. For the beginning of our story, see my previous post, What I Don’t Remember.
I do remember being adopted. I remember the excitement of taking a day off school to drive down to meet with the judge. I remember him asking me questions and my parents signing papers. I remember taking pictures outside the courthouse before heading back home. I remember that I felt very loved.
I still do.
I’m sure my eighth year was full of exciting things (like my baptism and the birth of my sister, Andrea) but none stand out in my mind as vividly as the day I was adopted.
Is there a moment in your youth that stands out as one of the most important days of your life?
October 27, 2010 by
Alternately titled: Why Little Girls Should Not Be Allowed to do Mommy’s Make-up
Reese, age seven and a half, is currently fascinated by my make up. And since I love to be pampered, I have agreed – twice in the last week! – to let her give me a make-over. The first time she did my make up was quite enjoyable. She didn’t quite understand the boundaries of blush, and I ended up with a very red nose and cheeks….but otherwise it was a fun experience.
Last night, however, she was feeling a little more daring. I fear that I may have to reconsider the Mommy Make-overs and stick with letting her put pony tails all over my head.
I think the pictures speak for themselves.
October 12, 2010 by
Help me win the Amazing Avocado Big Hit Grand Prize ($5000!) for my yummy Avocado recipe by voting daily for me at http://www.theamazingavocado.com/bighit/vote.php?id=8
How many times have you taken a photo with the flash and come back with something like this?
Red eyes might be fashionable for Halloween, but I don’t know of anyone who wants to be remembered with blood-red eyes. So we’ve either got to avoid red eyes or correct them. Just the other night, after taking pictures at a night time wedding, CandyMan asked why a few of his dancing pictures had such hideous red eyes. He was curious why the red-eye effect happened, and I figured a few of you might be wondering as well.
It’s relatively easy to correct the red-eye effect in your post-processing routine, but it’s always better to start with something good. I typically only have problems with red eye when using my little point and shoot. Most photo processing programs have a handy red eye tool. If the red eye tool doesn’t do the job, another quick trick is to convert the photo to black and white.
Why do eyes turn red in pictures?
The red-eye effect occurs in photographs in low light when the flash is very close to the lens. Because the flash of light occurs too fast for the pupil to close, a lot of that light from the flash passes through the pupil and reflects off the fundus (at the back of the eye) and out again through the pupil. The main reason that the camera records this as red is because there is so much blood located behind the retina.
Kind of gross, isn’t it?
How can I avoid red-eye?
- Use a bounce flash, ie: point your flash away from the subject so that it is bouncing off the ceiling or a wall. This ensures that only diffused flash light enters the eye.
- The closer your flash is to the lens, the more likely you will be to catch some red eyes. That’s why point and shoot cameras are more likely to have the problem than SLRs, whose lenses pop up further away from the lens.
- Shoot flash pictures from an angle, rather than looking straight into the subject’s eyes (have the subject look away from the camera lens).
- Take your pictures without flash. You can increase the lighting in the room, open the lens aperture, increase your ISO, or reduce the shutter speed to accomodate.
- You can still use the flash indoors by increasing the lighting in the room so that the subject’s pupils are more constricted.
- Use the red-eye reduction function in your camera. Red-eye reduction lets off a series of short, low-power flashes, or a continuous piercing bright light triggering the iris to contract before the actual flash goes off and the picture is taken.
- Having the subject look away from the camera lens.
October 3, 2010 by
You might recall a post here last month about the Amazing Avocado, along with a favorite family recipe. At the time, I was submitting the recipe to an avocado recipe contest (with a grand prize of $5000). Now, a month later, I am happy to announce (if you haven’t heard all of my tweeting and facebooking about it already) that I was chosen as one of the 8 US finalists, to represent the Washington DC area.
Earlier this week, voting commenced. And this is where you come in. If I’m going to stand a chance to get the $5000 grand prize, I need daily votes from everyone and their cat. Each email address can vote once per day. I wouldn’t beg quite so much if there wasn’t $5000 involved. But there is, and I am begging.
Plus, the recipe just happens to be AMAZING. This is not just some recipe I pulled off google and posted on my blog. It is a true favorite, and everyone who tries it is hooked. Trust me.
Fresh Corn and Avocado Salsa….The salsa that’s as full of variety as the Washington DC region!1 can corn, drained
1 can black eyed peas, drained
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
fresh cilantro, to taste, chopped (after it’s chopped, mine comes out to about 2-3 Tbsp)
1-2 bunches green onion, chopped
2 avocadoes, chopped
Dry Italian dressing, prepared (or about 3/4 to 1 cup bottled dressing)* Add all chopped ingredients to a large bowl. Mix the Italian dressing in a separate container, then add all at once to the bowl. Mix gently but thoroughly.* For a spicier salsa, add chopped jalapenos to taste.* Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping to just about anything….quesadillas, chicken, salads….
So please forgive me as I remind you guys a few times a day to vote. I might even have some big prizes to offer at the end of this contest if I come home with the $5000 grand prize. Just sayin’. Tweets, Facebook updates, emails, etc are welcome!
PS–I am willing to write guest posts during the next few weeks to show my appreciation. Let me know if you need anything. I owe you guys.
Even better….(for you) YOU can submit your own avocado recipe to The Amazing Avocado for a weekly chance to win a $100 grocery card!
What is your favorite way to eat an avocado?
September 30, 2010 by
September 29, 2010 by
I was at the bank today, getting a document notarized for something really exciting that I’ll be revealing soon…..and the bank notary struck up some conversation with me. I am always floored when people in businesses or banks remember details about clients, and this bank employee was especially good. She rounded the corner, saw me sitting in the lobby, and said, “Hi! So good to see you! No kids today? Are all of the kids in school now? Amazing! I bet that feels great! Are you still at home or are you working outside the home now?” ….and on and on. I explained to her that I am working more at home than ever. Between my slowly but steadily growing photography business and my ever-demanding but rewarding “job” as a blogger, as well as a few other side things I’ve got going on, I do keep myself pretty busy during school hours. I thought it was rather appropriate that one of MamaKat’s writing prompts for this week happened to be to describe 10 Reasons why you love your job.
- I never have to “clock in.” Work begins and ends whenever I feel like it. Granted, that often means that I’m working on and off all day and into the night….but at least I’ve got some flexibility.
- I can work in my sweats and t-shirt, and no one complains if I haven’t showered or done my make-up.
- My office mates are the best. And, even better…they’re in school from 8:30-3:00 every day!
- I am my own boss. Most of the time. I am independent by nature, and I love being independent at work.
- There is no right or wrong in my job. I love that both photography and blogging are creative outlets for me. I do what I want to do.
- If I want a day off, I can take it any time.
- The benefits might not be the best, but I love the perks that come with being a blogger. Opportunities I never would have had otherwise, like interviewing movie stars and speaking at conferences….I am living a dream I didn’t realize I had.
- I can be home every day when my kids come home from school.
- I meet incredible people through my job.
- My jobs force me to be ever-learning. I love feeling like I’m growing and progressing every day. I can’t imagine it any other way anymore.
Photo of me and Julie taken with Julie’s camera. The original can be found on Dutch Being Me: Bloggy Bootcamp recap in pictures
September 19, 2010 by
This past weekend’s Bloggy Bootcamp in Philadelphia was my third SITS event, and by far my favorite. I was able to make my trip to Philly a full weekend vacation (emphasis on Vacation) and even got to swing by a certain Pennsylvania hospital to meet my brand new niece, born during the conference. So what did I learn and why do I keep going back?
1- Friends are friends no matter how you meet. Take Erica from Mommy’s Still Fabulous, for instance. We’ve been blogging friends for a while and met at the Baltimore Bloggy Bootcamp….but how many of you would consider inviting a person you’ve only seen twice to sleep on your couch? Erica would. And guess what? Her couch was amazing. And so was chatting with her late at night when we both should have been sleeping.
2- Once you’ve met a blogging friend and had a chance to sit down and gab face to face, it’s time to take the relationship to the next level. That’s what Heather from ThetaMom and I decided. I have always adored her, but now….I adore her more. Same goes for a dozen other bloggers I met this weekend.
3- If you’re speaking, don’t change your presentation the morning that you leave for the conference. Or do. In the end, I was glad that I scrapped my old plans because when it came time for my presentation, I only had about 20 minutes to give a room full of 125 women my best tips on getting better photos, and somehow it worked.
4- The best conversations happen over food. Julie at Dutch Being Me….you know I’m talking about you now.
5- Sometimes the most important things are learned outside of class. I can’t wait to put to use some of the budget-saving tips from Lynn at Maven of Savin’. Rite Aid, here I come!
6- Good roommates make all the difference, and I got lucky. Tara from Feels Like Home is somebody I both admire and consider a dear friend, as well as a blogging, SEO diva. The “off time” that we got to spend together was some of the best of the entire weekend.
7- Don’t leave home without a big stack of business cards. If you don’t have some of your own (or are running out like me) go enter my fancy business card giveaway.
8- Wear whatever you want, but whatever you wear, make sure it’s comfortable. I admired the cute scarfs and the cool boots and the colorful shoes throughout the conference, but I happily stayed in my Skechers walking sandals all weekend. With my needing-to-be-repainted blue toenails, no less.
9- Take lots of pictures. Period. See #10 below.
10- Try a new battery when your camera stops working before the big social cocktail party. Don’t just leave the camera in the room and figure that snapshots don’t matter that much. Because they do, and you’ll regret not having them.
PS– for those of you who were at Bloggy Bootcamp with me this weekend, or for those of you who weren’t and would like to see what I spoke about, here are the posts I mentioned:The Rule of Thirds (note: this post includes the pictures of me and my husband that I was talking about)
Photo of me and Erica and of me speaking are from the Bloggy Bootcamp Philly flickr group.The rest are from me.