Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Big Bear

We just got back from Big Bear last night. Had a great time!

For one reason or another for a few days before we left, I was feeling a bit down. Its been chilly here and it felt like all I had been doing for days on end was washing dishes, doing the laundry and making meals. All of which are never-ending tasks that you never really finish, so it can start to feel a bit defeating at times.

I really needed to get out of the house and DO something.

We left Friday night and drove up to Uncle Floyd's cabin. We were excited to see our first snow of the season and to watch the temperature drop as we climbed the mountain.

The trip started off a teensy bit rocky, yet somehow in its rockiness, it was better than the dreariness of the days before.

On the way up we hit a patch of ice and lost control of the car for about 30 seconds. Scary! The kids yelled and I almost had a heart attack. Archie said after it happened, "Whoa that was almost like a car accident!" but if you ask Dallas, he says it was just a little fishtail.

In order to get to the cabin we have to turn onto a dirt road. An unplowed dirt road. Actually an unplowed SNOW road as there was no dirt to be seen. We got stuck. For two hours. Dallas's truck always gets stuck although he never likes to admit it. I told him to put the chains on before we got into the snow and he said we didn't need to. Therefore I am thoroughly enjoying this "I told you so" that I am putting on the internet to never be forgotten :)

Anyways, after about two hours of trying to dig out the wheels, trying to reverse, trying to push, trying to adjust the chains, trying to get the chains untangled from the break line, trying to put logs under the tires to give it traction, trying to put more weight in the truck bed, trying all of these things two thousand times and somehow expecting to get a different result and only getting the exact same result of complete and utter stuckness, someone who lived up the road that we were blocking, showed up and saved us! We could have gotten out of the car and walked the mile or less to the cabin if it really came down to it.

Our friends who drove up with their two kiddos, also got stuck and their little girl was feeling a bit car sick and so things were getting more and more awesome by the minute.

Actually we all remained in good spirits the whole time, myself included -despite not being able to feel feel my feet. Sometimes these moments snap you out of your funk and make you more of a team player.

It made it that much sweeter when we finally got to the cabin, at midnight. Which had no DVD player! We made hot cocoa, the kids were ecstatic to see each other and we let them stay up and play.

When it was time to settle down, the kiddos had a slumber party with their sleeping bags in the living room in front of the blazing fire. We turned on the TV to the closest thing to a kids channel to help them wind down. Unfortunately it was Family Guy lol, and it was about a guy who drank something that transformed him into a woman. The kids kept asking why the woman sounded like a man and then fell asleep with those those deep thoughts to ponder.

The next morning we woke up to a winter wonderland.

We were surrounded by snow and the morning sun made it sparkle. We told Winnie the girls that it was Arendale (from Frozen).

After breakfast the kiddos went outside and had snowball fights,

built three quarters of a snowman,

 made snow angels

 and did some tobogganing.  

 Their sheer joy and playfulness in the snow made all of our troubles well worth it!

Why do kids look so cute in snow suits?

It was a lazyish day. We all packed into the car and went into town to get some food and something to cook for dinner. We did puzzles, watched Supercross and some Soccer and played in the snow some more. I managed to finish knitting Winnie's snow hat with the yarn I bought at Purl Soho in NYC!

The kiddos got along so well and honestly the parents did too. Its not always easy to find people who are super easy going, fun and funny and who you have so much in common with. Good friendships should never be taken for granted and I am so grateful for this one.

Archie has a thing for face-planting, intentionally into the snow.

You give that boy a toboggan and he only needs one foot to be inside it to be ready to throw himself full force down the hill.

A mamas worst nightmare. I actually believe that he was aiming for the trees. My little Wild Man.

His fearlessness terrifies me, but it also warms my heart to know that he is a life LIVER. He will live his life and enjoy it.

I love taking photos of the kids, I know I will treasure them forever. I tried to shoot on Manual, but at some point it became too hard to capture running children when I have to adjust the camera settings each time. I need to practice, but I was having too much fun in the moment to bother with camera settings so I switched to auto.

The next day after breakfast, cleaning up, some early morning tobogganing and mini snowman building,

we went tubing!

The sledding place wasn't too packed and it was lots and lots of fun! At one point Winnie's new hat fell off and she freaked out about it which normally would have been frustrating but this time it made me proud that she cared about the hat I knitted for her :)

We headed home after a few hours of sledding. The kiddos had a blast.

The whole trip was fun, but the drive back held some of my favorite moments. Watching the sunset through the trees on the snowy mountain, belting out to the likes of Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul (who I unabashedly admit I was a huge fan of as a kid lol) and whatever else came on, feeding salsa and chips to Dallas and Arch, the kids wearing In'n Out hats. We are a family and it was so nice to get this little break together without thinking about work, laundry or school. 

Good times.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Eyes Open Photography

My Dad gifted me the Eyes Open Creative Photography E-course that I had wanted for Christmas.  I just started it yesterday and I thought I'd tell you a little bit about it.

In the past I've not really wanted to take lessons because an early on bad experience led me to believe that the technical aspect would suck the joy out of photography for me as well as the moment I was trying to capture.

Additionally, as I often told myself,  I wasn't trying to take photos the way I was supossed to, I was doing it the way I wanted to. Its art.

As time has passed, I've fallen more and more in love with photo taking or photography. The camera is such a miraculous invention that allows us to save our moments in time. Its simply unbelievably amazing that we can do this at all. However I found myself frustrated with a camera that wouldn't fire when I wanted it to and photos that didn't look like what I was seeing with my own eyes that had inspired me to take the photo in the first place.

My technique was to take photos and then edit them. Just little edits. Mostly brightness/contrast.  I was much better at Photoshop or Lightroom than I ever was at photography. However, as I'm now learning, there is only so much you can do, editing wise, with an improperly exposed photograph.

I remained dubious about taking the class up until I received my first lesson, yesterday.

The lesson discussed the things like aperture, shutter speed, depth of field and exposure that I would usually tune out when people mentioned them. In fact I was sick of people who were, in my mind, just trying to sound really smart by talking about them. lol. I'm a real jerk in my mind sometimes!

I found that in the lesson, the way in which it was explained, was completely logical and completely pertinent to my everyday photo taking and completely did not make me want to kill myself! COMPLETELY!  Erin, our teacher, referred to proper exposure as "capturing your subject, the way your eye sees it." Hello! That's what I have been having trouble with this whole time! 

I want to take a moment here to acknowledge the clear moral of this story which is that being a know-it-all doesn't get you far in life, but I just can't say it. In fact, I don't think I would have ever have been able to learn these technical terms if I didn't have as much familiarity with the camera and photo taking as I do. I needed to need to learn it before I could actually appreciate it. But now, I do appreciate it! But I do think there is something to be said for not letting the technicalities stop you from doing something you love, right? No? Ok I'm just stubborn.

My first venture into shooting in manual mode after learning about these first couple of aspects and learning how to adjust them on my camera was less than encouraging. The first photo I took was black. Like completely black. lol. I came to the conclusion that my camera was broken even though I bought a new one a few months ago.  I tried adjusting things and even called the camera shop I bought it from who were less than enthusiastic about having to talk to the moron (me) who happened to own a camera.

Anywho, thanks to persistence. referring back to the instructions and speedy replies from Teacher Erin, I finally I figured it out on my own (but not before taking some photos that were pure white as well).

Here you will find my first forays into manual photo taking. No auto and not a single edit. I pretty much started taking photos of everything.


When I said everything, I meant it!

Even though they are just pictures of Barbies, oranges and piles of brick I felt a huge sense of adventure by figuring out all of the settings on my own and adding in some depth here and there.

I'm learning so much about my camera at the same time!

By the second day, after getting a couple of critiques/encouragements online, I started to feel more confidence. I am legit now! So I decided to take my camera on my lunchtime trip to the nursery with my mom and my number one gal Winnie.

One of the things I know about my own style of photo taking is that I like photos that tell a story. I think this little series tells its own little story beginning with us waiting in the car for grandma to meet us.

I have to say that Camelias are the most gorgeous flowers ever! These ones are called "Pink-a-boo".

And she's out!

Anywho, I know this is a long post, but I am pretty excited about this and I wanted to share these manual photos without a single edit because I'm only allowed to add four photos to my flickr group per day. But nobody can stop me from putting them on my own blog!!!