Wednesday, July 30, 2008

mah bay-bee is growing up!

we visited preschool today. (sob)

timmy poopied in his potty seat of his own free will yesterday evening, with no prompting from us. even though we have a "meet the teacher" group scheduled august 21st, we called to ask if we could drop in today as a reward for such wonderful big boy behavior.

we arrived and were escorted to miss brooke's classroom. timmy was inexplicably shy and whispered his greeting. then he noticed the sink. a kitchen-style sink at his height. with a magic faucet (just waive your hand beneath and the water comes on). he asked, "may i please wash my hands?" he found no bar soap, so miss brooke talked him through the pump and the magic faucet and the paper towel dispenser and the waste bin.

miss brooke also introduced him to the class caterpillar. whom timmy poked and almost squished. out of love, though. love; not malice.

then timmy noticed the bin of dinosaurs.

and the bin of tinker toys.

and the bin of cars.

and the reading area, where i read a book about emergency vehicles to him (but skipped four of every five pages, b/c that was one long book!) and miss brooke promised to read "chicka chicka boom boom" (a very fun book) at the "meet the teacher" event.

timmy was well-behaved even though he wanted to see it all and do it all. i was proud of him.

but my baby! (sob) he's growing up! (sob) i'm not ready! (sob)

i suppose it's a good thing he'll have these two mornings a week for two years before kindergarted, eh?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

i listen. i learn. i do.

oh, my. busy, busy, busy.

my basic digital photography class is going well. my brother thomas and my gf sharon are taking it with me and if nothing else, we're having a good time together. we meet for dinner at one of the old town restaurants before class. we email each other links to good articles about exposure, etc.

exposure. man. i like the instructor, brian. he's nice and he knows what he's doing. he doesn't seem to think we're all a bunch of idiots. (although we very well may be. :D) the first night we learned where all our buttons and knobs are and what they do. no kidding. but what's worse than the sound of that is . . . we had some trouble. all of us. even those of us who scoured our manuals intent on remembering every little thing. (i guess i really do need to know what "shutter speed," "iso" and "aperture" mean and how they interact before i can begin to remember how to change one of them.)

our first week's assignment was to take pictures of things in and around our homes, making changes to the above three mystery concepts as we go. however, none of the three of us understood, in practice, how to go about this task until the day before the second class. i came across a bunch of articles online that helped it click for me and promptly emailed t and s. the piece that we all needed was how to find from what settings we should start (and from which we should begin making those incremental changes). i did feel comfortable with each of the three concepts individually. on paper. but i needed to know how they interact. apparently, so did my cohorts.

we are now a couple days post-second class meeting and i am back to discouraged. we took night pictures. my (free with purchase of my camera. should have known.) tripod has a screw loose. literally, because the plastic into which it - well, screws - is cracked. thus, my camera shakes. and slowly droops. resulting in crappy, blurry photographs. and frustrated photographer.

although! there was one bright point in the evening. i was approached by an extremely handsome man on crutches early on. i did not run away because of the crutches, which just now (!) made me think of ted bundy's broken-arm-need-assistance ploy. (pausing to thank God for protecting me, even though i am so obviously a dolt.) he asked if i were taking a photography class (the six of us standing around with our tripods must have clued him in). he said (oh, did i mention his delicious accent? maybe italian?), "look around at all your friends. they are all taking the very same picture. you do something different. lie on the ground or stand atop this fence. (it was a wall.) you see? all the same subject, but yours will be beautiful." ah, good times. good times.

oh, my LORD, this is a boring post! but, as this is my journal, my diary (and as i am my only regular reader), i owe no one a good read, right? i want to document my rise from pathetic less-than-beginner to competent and (dare i hope?) good photographer. from this day foreward (please picture scarlett o'hara with her turnip) i will enjoy my own pictures.

just like the time tim tried to teach me how to golf, i am frustrated. then, i could see in my mind's eye exactly where the ball should go. it consistently refused to cooperate and flew off behind me. (no kidding - some of our friends did not believe i could do that until i showed them.) now, i see in my mind's eye what my photographs should look like. they also consistently refuse to cooperate. i need a rosetta stone to translate what my eye sees into what my camera sees. (maybe this will come with class number three? please?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the wilds of my back yard

as usual, we're spending the morning in our back yard. we wake up, we eat breakfast, we get dressed. or not. today he preferred to play with no undies - just an undershirt. since it's my own back yard and my neighbors (both sides and the back yard neighbor) are all non-weirdo women, i say "nakie? ok. why not?" so, we go out. we swing, timmy chases louie, ike chases timmy and louie, rosie lounges on the shelf beneath the barbeque grill. we have a wonderful, peaceful time in our back yard until it's time for lunch and nap. then we do it all again in the afternoon. (see? it's not my fault the dishes from last night are unwashed and the family room is unvacuumed.)

something i most enjoy about being out here? the bird songs, the rustling of the leaves overhead, the squirrel chatter. something i don't enjoy? about a week ago, louie realized his life's dream and caught a squirrel. they sit on the tree branches or roof top scolding the doggies and laughing their furry little butts off as the doggies are jumping and screaming and unable to come near them.  i guess the fat little terrorist wasn't paying attention, b/c louie crept up on him and snatched the hairs right off his tail. (squirrels are not nearly as cute with no tail hair - they look like huge mice. i'll never look at another squirrel the same again.) tim came out and made louie let him go, but he may have been injured b/c the next morning as i'm reading in my lounge chair, i saw louie proudly prancing to and fro with a tail-hairless squirrel in his mouth. i'm sure i woke up every day-sleeper in the city as i screamed for tim to come out and take care of it.

aaaaaaaanyway, in the early morning or late afternoon we sometimes see our neighbor's (wild) rabbits crossing from her back yard to our back yard neighbor's back yard. they are not disturbed in the least by louie's and rosie's scream-barking fits. they know there is a fence between them.

one little guy this morning, however? not so lucky. no fence. timmy first noticed louie's strange bark - i was gazing up through the leaves of a maple tree to the teeny bits of blue sky above, so the bark didn't quite enter my consciousness. after running to the patio to investigate, he called me over to see the surprise louie and rosie found.

a toad! a scared and peeing toad. i am sad to say louie and rosie flitted to and fro on the patio, dodging and dancing around the toad like mohammed ali, striking with lightening speed to him (her?) up the toad in their mouths and toss him into the air.

now, i have no desire at any time to pick up a toad. but i couldn't just let louie and rosie play with him until he expired, could i? so, i grabbed timmy's john deere hat to scoop him up without the doggies knowing what i'd done and carried him to the sand box. where he'd be safe. but not unbothered.

see how he's just covered in sand? yeah. timmy poured sand onto him. many times. and it stuck - maybe because of all that pee or dog slobber? he hopped away from the sand box several times (see the blue aquarium-like glow in the second picture? that's the morning sun shining through our kiddie pool.) but i dutifully carried him back. (shudder. i deserve a medal.)

timmy eventually got bored with the toad, but you know, the whole time he was being bothered first by the doggies and then by timmy, he seemed remarkably calm. except for the peeing thing. but i tend to have to go when i'm nervous, too, so who am i to judge.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

does this make sense to you?

i like things the way i like them. is that so wrong?

i wouldn't call myself picky, but maybe particular is a good word to describe me. i like to be as obsessive-compulsive organized as possible.

here's one example: i hang my laundry on the clothes line (oh, i do so love the smell of clothes fresh off the line!) in a particular (see? there's that word) order. each person's clothes are their own group, as are towels, bedding, doggie items (my doggies not only have regular ol' dog bedding that needs washing from time to time, but they also get cold and wear "fweaters" and jammies. but i digress). within each of these groupings, there are sub-groupings. clothes are separated by type, such as tops (sub-sub-grouped by sleeve-length, color and fabric weight), bottoms (jeans, shorts). underwear and bras go on the first line so my backyard neighbors don't see them. not that they're interested, but . . . just in case, you know? towels are grouped by location (bathroom, kitchen) and then by size and style. sheets - well, i'm sure you get it.

but see? i don't do this because i'm picky! i choose to organize my laundry on the four long rows of clothesline i have so i can easily fold them as i take them off, place them in the basket, take the basket from room to room and put the items away. just like that. no sorting through the folded clothes (which encourages wrinkles, people) to find all of, say, timmy's clothing. it's all right together - and it's separated by drawer! and further separated by how it goes in that drawer! timmy's "summer clothes" drawer, por ejemplo, is organized by shirts (stripes in one spot, solids in another, logos or characters in another, etc.) and shorts (knits vs twills vs denim - and all those sorted by color). see?

organization makes me happy. clutter makes me nervous and cranky and just . . . down.

timmy likes to be organized, too, although not nearly to the same degree. he likes to have all his toys put away before going to bed. his toys all have a place. balls have a balls bin. cars, because he has so many, have a medium cars bin and a small cars bin , and his very large cars (cop car, ambulance, fire truck and a huge motorcycle) are parked on the shelf above the cars bins. his musical instruments go in the musical instruments basket on top of the trains bin. for some reason, his soldiers go in the trains bin. (?) tools go in the drawer of his workbench. all the unrelated toys go into a generic toys bin. he has a very small room and being organized keeps it open and spacious-feeling.

so, why doesn't tim see any value in being organized? believe me, i am grateful he emptied the dishwasher for me last night, but why did he put the innards of timmy's cups (straws, valves, etc.) in the knife section of the silverware drawer instead of into the lids of the cups (on the cup shelf!) themselves? why slide the microwave bacon crisper between the cereal containers? and please, for the love of pete, can anyone tell me how it makes any sense at all to forgo the cabinet containing all the measuring items in favor of putting the glass measuring cup down into the pots and pans cabinet? why? (why?)

and while you're pondering, could you please explain why the man cannot close his closet door?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

july's 12-of-12

the twelfth of this month dawned grey and rainy. just like the three days preceding it. yuck. i needs me some sunshine. (maybe that's why i used such a retina-searing color of cardstock?) and timmy needs him some outside time.

but . . . i powered past my feelings of blah-ness and made sure my camera was ready to go. i lived my life. i took my pictures. once again, i forgot to take pictures of meals. however! i did type in the correct date this month. this is progress.

i hope my photos next month will be shockingly improved after my photography class (which was scheduled to start on the 10th but was canceled at the very last minute b/c the instructor's wife was involved in an auto accident - she's fine, and we'll make it up with a class meeting added to the end). i plan to learn the heck out of it. 

Friday, July 11, 2008

photo shaZAM

i stole that title from jessica sprague. she finally posted another photoshop friday! woohoo! it's a quick and dirty tutorial for adding some wow using screen and overlay layers. she calls her technique photo shaZAM. and i tried it.

i've already posted this picture:

plain ol' picture
it's ok. he's cute, no? i love his hair. i love the look on his face. i love his necklace. but the photograph itself is just ok. i didn't realize this until i read today's photoshop friday post. in fact, i really loved it prior to reading that post and trying the technique myself.

now that i've been properly educated on this topic, i love this one:

i greedily await photoshop friday posts. i also check the pioneer woman’s photography section once or twice or twenty times a day, hoping to learn something. ree also burns the edges of a lot of her photographs. i've never done it until now. i think i may have been a little heavy-handed, but i'm still happy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

all i can say is SQUEEE!

tonight begins my photography class! i've been reading my manual like crazy to prepare. my gf sharon and my brother tom are coming, too. i have been wanting to take one for years, but now that i have my d40, it's time.

the college in town does not offer any photography classes - can you believe that? every semester, i look in the catalog, but no. the arts and recreation department of the big town/small city near me does, though, so that's what i'm doing.

their catalog does not give a big description, and the receptionist didn't have details (though she was SO friendly and otherwise helpful), so i'm afraid "basic digital photography" might be too basic for me. but if i weren't worried about that, i'd worry about something else, so i say for $50, it's worth it. in the fall, we can all sign up for the advanced digital photography class.

speaking of squee, i have an opportunity to go to chicago in a few weeks. i haven't seen tori since january and haven't seen andrew, michelle & baby arie since september!

there's only one problem. the opportunity arose b/c a friend and her friend are driving and offered to take timmy and me along. we'll split the gas 3 ways. none of us can afford to fly anymore (stinkin' oil prices!), so it's a great alternative. however, the dates are set in stone b/c of the friend's son's navy graduation and i just realized yesterday after finally consulting my planner that it's also the weekend of my youngest brother's wedding.

dang it! i don't know what to do. it's his 3rd marriage (don't ask), but that doesn't mean it isn't important and isn't the one that will finally "take." but i haven't seen my first two babies in so long! and i suspect they won't be able to fly down for the holidays (again i curse those oil prices!). i just don't know what to do. but i'm excited i have the opportunity to consider anyway.

in the meantime, it's just 8 hours until i begin taking better pictures!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

forgiveness: not my strong suit

i am not easily hurt or offended. i'm just not that sensitive, i guess. growing up an only girl with four brothers may have something to do with it - maybe i am less comfortable allowing myself to feel stereotypically "female" emotions. (oh, how we could delve into the depths of my psyche on this issue. maybe some day. then again, maybe not.)

i also do not trust easily. i'm polite. i'm friendly. i have a lot of "friends." i am a good friend to others, but there are only two women in the world who know the real entire me. i have a close relative who was, after ten years, becoming a friend. i haven't shared any deep dark secrets with her, but i am almost another parent to her child.

(deep breath.) ok . . . she criticized my child and my parenting skills. in a semi-public setting. it took no more than a few hours for the story to reach me.

i was devastated. i didn't know how to handle it. i decided almost immediately to forgive her, but what to do about it was beyond me. (my willingness to confront issues early and head-on has diminished since i've left the corporate world behind.) after several hours of hard thinking, i called my mom and cried. she listened and told me the criticisms were not accurate.

my mom is not the type to insert herself into her children's lives. she minds her own business. but in this case, she butted in. she called the relative. i do not know what she said, but whatever it was, it was the right thing to say, judging by the end result.

i would have waited until i wasn't so emotional before calling my relative to talk about the issue. so when caller i.d. showed she was calling that very night, i debated whether to answer. but i did. she was outside on the front porch and asked me to come out and talk to her.

i honestly do not know if i could ever be brave enough to do what she did - she got right to the point, told me she was very wrong, had no excuses and apologized. i did not make any effort to ease her discomfort (totally unlike me). i acknowledged her "wrongness" and let her know how deeply it hurt me. but i also told her i'd forgiven her almost immediately and accepted her apology.

i'd thought that even though i forgave her, our relationship would be forever damaged and doomed to remain politely distant, but as she answered my question of why she would say such things, something happened. the hurt i'd felt melted away and my broken trust mended. just like that. i didn't excuse her behavior - and she didn't ask me to - but over the hour or so we talked, we reestablished the foundation of our relationship.

forgiveness is always necessary, but not always easy for me. i should say it this way: forgiveness is a decision. not a feeling. sometimes the decision is made with gritted teeth and the "feeling" comes later. sometimes so much later that i wallow in my feelings of hurt or anger and realize i have to decide all over again to forgive. eventually the feelings match the decision. it's hard work!

but i know two things about forgiveness. the first is that it's required. if i want God to forgive me, i've got to extend forgiveness to others, even if they don't "deserve" it. the second is that withholding my forgiveness makes me a hostage to my pain and anger and prevents me from feeling peace in my life.

like i said, it's difficult. but this one time, God made it easy for me. for that, and for the repaired relationship with my relative, i'm grateful.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

peepee in the pot-TAY!

peepee in the pot-TAY! (say that like the bunny hop: "bump-ba, bump-ba, bump! BA!")

we've had no peepee problems here for weeks. timmy uses the potty seat with no intervention from me. he went to vacation Bible school last week. no peepee problems. he did not "go" while at vbs. no, he saved it all until he got home, each day calling out, "mommy! can you hear my peepees? it's a lot! it's making bubbles!" (now, that IS a lot of peepees!)

see the picture below? i took this right after vbs, before he had a chance to go peepee. see how proud he is of the handsome necklace he made? proud, yes, but i think i also see a hint of "good lord, woman - my bladder is SO full!"

needs a haircut!

timmy has never used a public restroom. firm refusal. slight hysteria at the mere suggestion. so i normally load up the potty seat into the cargo area when we go somewhere. but i didn't today when we went to mcdonald's playplace. just forgot. i noticed him dancing a bit, but he said he didn't need to "go." soon, he was dancing and "pinching." i knew he couldn't hold it much longer.

i snatched him up after grabbing a french fry off the floor. (i know that's gross, but stick with me here.) i threw the french fry into the toilet, stood him on the seat (thank goodness he still had his shoes on!) and told him to pee on that silly french fry. eureka! our very first public peepee!

ah, it's times like this that buoy my spirit and encourage me to keep at the poopoo training.

Friday, July 4, 2008

happy independence day!

bugs me when someone refers to this holiday as "the 4th of july." i mean, it IS the 4th of july, yes, but to call it that rather than "independence day" loses all significance. don't you think? independence! it's important to us Americans.

oh, i feel a big political rant about the erosion of our rights as citizens coming on . . . but that's not what i want to talk about. i hope to celebrate in a way that looks attractive and fun in photographs. if so, i hope to make a nice layout. before this year ends. but that's not what i want to talk about, either.

last night was not a restful night for several reasons, not the least of which was timmy waking up several times. "mommy? come in! i'm cold/hot/thirsty/i can't find chickie." or "mommy? do you hear the fireworks? is it still sleepy time?" or my personal favorite, "mommy? i have a question for you!" (last night's "question" was a recitation of the lyrics of 'heartland' by george strait.)

so, i was tired. and when i did sleep, i had one of my recurring dreams. i have several, but in last night's the brakes on my car weren't working. not hurtling-toward-death-with-no-way-to-stop not working. no, that would have been preferrable, i think. in my dream, my brakes slow me down, but i can never quite come to a complete stop.

and for some reason, i am loathe to tell anyone. i do not understand why, but i am reluctant to (and, in fact, don't) tell anyone. people ask me to drive them here, pick up that there - and i know i should refuse, but i can't. when it's time to stop at a traffic light or when parking, i push the brakes with all my might (remember the strength of my thighs?) but all i can do is slow down.

so far, in all the years i've had this dream, i have not crashed into the car ahead of me at the light or into the building in front of which i am attempting to park. but i know it's only a matter of time. i spend the entire dream worrying about the people in the car in front of me, the people in the car with me, property damage.

and all the time i am certain at any moment i and my faulty brakes will be exposed. exposed for what? in the clear light of day, it seems obvious to me that worn brakes are a common and easy to fix problem one should be completely unashamed to confess, but . . . not in my dream.

what the heck is my psyche trying to tell me? (and do i really want to know?)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

i used to be a professional

and by that, i do not mean a "professional." as in a pro. you know, a "working girl?" no, i mean i used to work all day in the corporate world. and i was a star. no, really. i have confidence issues in many areas, but not regarding my work. i really was an expert in my area of expertise. my advice and counsel were sought by many (which is a fairly good thing for a consultant).

i do not regret, for one solitary moment, being home to raise my baby. i believe every woman who can, should. please note the italics. many women can not afford to stay home with their babies. i feel for those moms who wish they could but must work to pay the bills. being married to a cop, i know a thing or two about money crunch. (why is it that police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and military members do such dangerous work for others' benefit and yet make so little money? does this make sense to you? can you explain it to me?)

other women feel they can not be good moms at home if they are not also active in the working world. these women should do what's necessary to allow them to be the best mothers they can be. their children are better off with a mom who is fully present and engaged at the end of the work day than one who is bitter and distracted all day long at home.

as i said, i believe it is best for children to be raised by a stay-at-home parent whenever possible. it is especially so for my child(ren). because my working self thinks nothing of being away at work from 6am-10pm and then working from home several hours more. because my working self's mind is totally, completely engaged in (obsessed with? i'm not too proud to admit it) the intricacies of the myriad laws and regulations that change seemingly daily; with the research so integral to finding and implementing just the right solution for a particular client; with planning and teaching the university courses that prepare fledgling (or veteran) professionals to pursue or advance in their own careers. oh, my heart is pounding even as i type this. that old addiction is still unbelievably strong. and so i stay away.

my children deserve my best. and i am unable to give my best to them when i give my all to work. unfortunately, i am unable to maintain balance. i have tried. i am sorry to have to confess that andrew and tori did receive less than my best during their early high school years. i thought i had a handle on it, but it slowly took over, this monkey on my back. but i dialed it back in time. they are relatively well-adjusted and healthy adults. and now we have timmy. and i am determined to give him my best. (i have taken the odd project here and there, but only short-term projects and those that allow me to work mostly from home. and still i must remain on guard. i wonder if this is a disability?)

again, i do not regret this decision to be a full-time sahm. i don't. i am fully committed to this, my job as mother. i am my child's first - and i hope best - teacher. he will grow up more independent, more confident, more engaged in learning. and so, on the rare day when i wake up feeling a little depressed about my absense from my former world, i just remind myself of the importance of my current job. i may be dressing in a t-shirt and crocs every day, but i am raising a fully-fuctioning, mentally and physically healthy, thinking and reasoning person here. and i am a star in this job, too.