Sunday, January 30, 2011

1/29/11 and 1/30/11 - Miracle Fruit

Two post.  I firmly believe this topic deserves two days.  Last night, Rich and I hosted a Miracle Fruit party in our home.  It was quite the experiment for all involved.  The Miracle Fruit is this amazing berry that, once you chew it, makes all things that are normally sour taste sweet.  Now...if you know anything about me, you know I have a major sweet tooth.  For me, this is the find of a lifetime.  We found ours at the Papaya Tree Nursery in Granada Hills.

We prepared a variety of ordinary foods to taste: lemons, limes, grapefruit, bell peppers, garlic, sour cream, strawberries, pickles, vinegar etc...and invited guests to bring foods to test out as well.  My husband had chosen these little plastic containers to house the berries and this is the only photo I snapped that evening.  Once I tasted my first altered food, I knew I was not going to make it back to the camera for any more photos.

We opened our little boxes, and popped the dried berries in our mouths and chewed them up for about 30 seconds The berry itself tasted sort of like a dried cranberry. I enjoyed it, but some people tasted nothing and one person really seemed to dislike the flavor of the berry itself.  Immediately after chewing the berry, I noticed...nothing. I don't know what I expected, but my mouth felt and tasted the same as it always did.  

Then to the food.  I figured I'd start gently...a strawberry seemed like the safest bet. WORLD'S BEST STRAWBERRY! I'm telling you, this is what strawberries are supposed to taste like, I'm sure of it.  I was instantly hooked.  Lemons...intense lemon candy, Limes...the same.  Pickles...sweet?  Balsamic vinegar...amazing. Tomato Juice....koolaid?  It was just the most amazing thing. Forget the camera...I had to eat.  

I'm now pricing miracle fruit plants.  Seriously.  I think it may just make one heck of a birthday Valentines present to the girl with the sweet tooth.

Took a macro of the left over berries this morning. Powerful little suckers.

Friday, January 28, 2011

1/28/11 - Sous Chef

I love that Nathan is at the age when he can start helping with food preparation.  I'm really going to have to try and have him help more often.  My hope is that if he helps make dinner, he might be more willing to eat it. 

For tonight's meal, he helped grate the cheese, crack and open the eggs, stir the eggs, put the pre-measured spices in the mix, and sprinkle cheese on the casserole.

This was his first time grating cheese....and boy did he love it.  He especially enjoyed sampling the cheese while he worked.

The delicious final product.

1/27/11 - Reading

Nathan can read.  I'm constantly amazed at how well he can read.  Rich is convinced that he will be reading at a 2nd grade level by the time he's 4 and I'm not so sure about that.  Of course, he was also convinced that he would be reading words fairly well by the time he was 3...and here we are. He trounces over words like cat, top, pet, stop etc... He can read multi-syllabic words with little to no help.  He needs help when there is a weird rule involved like silent e making a long vowel.  But my boy can pretty much read....and he LOVES it.

Nathan has always loved words...since the moment when he was 9 months old and learned the word "no"...language was his best friend. It got him the things he wanted and kept him from the things he didn't. He immediately soaked words up like a sponge...wanted to know what everything was called.  By the time he was 15 months he had a vocabulary of over 100 words.  I thought it would just even out...but once he learned all of the words in the world around him, his focus turned to letters.  He wanted to know the sounds they made...his favorite was the letter y.  When he was 2 he was starting to read words like no, mommy, daddy, bed.  There were several memorized words in his repertoire. Now, it seems that almost no words are off limits. He'll try to read anything and gets so excited when he can. 

He has also started spelling words on his own. I find this fascinating and wonderful.  The way the brain works is just amazing. He has pretty much mastered the concept that letters create sounds and these sounds create he is now deconstructing it and working backwards thinking "what can I spell?"  His fine motor skills are far behind his understanding, so he does this activity on our refrigerator door.   Here, in today's picture, he has successfully figured out how to spell his own name....completely on his own.  Can you tell I'm proud and amazed?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1/26/11 - Tulips

Decided against the blood taking shot.  Not because I didn't want to do it...but because it would have been amazingly difficult.  They always use my right arm...and I just don't think I could have possibly taken the photo with my left hand....shutter button being on the right and all.

SO, I settled for the tulips I got at the grocery store yesterday.  I figure they probably wouldn't last until tomorrow anyway.  Nathan picked these out.  I've got to stop letting Nathan pick things. I really wanted to get these cool yellow flowers, but Nathan insisted on the purple tulips.  Next time, I'm picking!

Here is the official shot followed by an honorable mention or two.  All taken with my 100mm 2.8L macro.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1/25/11 - Dr.'s Office

Today I had a "well" visit with a new doctor.  Why does it always seem that whenever I make a well visit, I seem to get sick by the time the visit rolls around.  Probably has something to do with my garbage immune system.  Or is it an overactive immune system?  I don't know how that works.


Dr's visit.  In one of those backless garments, with my camera cause I'm doing this ridiculous project. New doctor is great. She was very personable...we chatted about kids and Disney and how it stinks that I'm sick.  I think she knows a thing or two about doctoring...she did know how to find my gigantic swollen glands, so that's good.

Here's the token photo.

Question...should I take the camera with me tomorrow when they draw blood for my blood tests?  Tempting....very tempting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1/24/11 - Tootsies.

Aren't they adorable? 

Nathan was just sitting there playing with Playdough at his little table in the Family Room.  I thought his little folded up up toes looked so cute I had to grab the camera.

1/23/11 - Disney!

First late post. Oh well...I knew I couldn't stay on time forever.

Today was yet another day at Disneyland.  I love Disneyland, and so does Nathan.  Daddy came with us which was awesome. We go about once a month, usually mid week to avoid crowds so Daddy doesn't usually get to come with us, but we decided to go on a Sunday 'cause I had to be in Anaheim for a mid-day rehearsal anyway. 

For the past year or so, every time we went to Disneyland, we took Nathan over to California Adventure to see if he was tall enough for "Soarin' Over California".  We even went so far once as to take off his socks and fold them up in the soles of his shoes to try and make him tall enough. (bad mama).  No luck. Always just a touch too short.  Last time we went (about a month ago) he was tall enough in the morning, but by the time we returned for our fast pass time-slot he was too short. GRRR. 

This time, he was tall enough...with room to spare!  Now....I don't have a picture of this.  WHY?  Well, I brought my xti instead of my trusty 5d Mark II, and I apparently forget how to use my xti when it's been on the shelf collecting dust for 5 or 6 months. I was too slow. Missed it.  So below is a photo just commemorating the day.

TALL ENOUGH! So exciting!  Not only does that mean that I (I mean Nathan?) get to ride Soarin' every time we go now...he's also tall enough for Space Mountain!  AND he just so happens to really love that ride! (YES!!!)  Disney just got turned up to 11.  WOOT! 

This photo was taken with my iPhone while waiting in line for "Toy Story Mania", a ride that until yesterday I had never been on.  Very unusual. This one was a first for all of us.  Very fun attraction. Rich won. Not a bad shot for an iPhone if I do say so myself.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1/22/11 - Different Day

Remember that "post for a different day" I mentioned yesterday.  Well, who could have known that different day would come so soon.  This morning didn't start off well.  As soon as Daddy announced that we should go to the Science Center today, things began to go very wrong.

For some reason, Nathan has this serious self-sabotage thing.  Once he finds out we're going to do something he's really going to enjoy, he starts working very hard to make sure that great thing does not happen.  It was impossible to get him dressed to go with "I don't wanna"s and "I can't"s around every turn.  Seriously...what is wrong with this kid?  Finally Daddy announced that we weren't going.  Tears.  Lots of Tears.

Okay...we can go if you do this, this and this. (sigh) He did.  We went.  We shouldn't have.

The day started out well enough. I had really hoped that one of these would be the photo of the day.

And then....around lunch time (surprise) he just stopped being cooperative.  He ended up in time out in the Kelp Forest exhibit.  Not a bad place to be in time out if you ask me.  Daddy let Nathan know that it was a pretty cool place to have a time out 'cause he could watch the fish.

Here's what Nathan wanted to watch instead.

I'm pretty sure this boy is insane. 
We ended up going home earlier than we wanted.  Luckily, it's close and it's free.  We'll try again some other day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

1/21/11 - Friday Night Fun

We've had this toy for at least a year now and I remember when it was purely a source of frustration. Frustration both me (I couldn't put the darn thing together, or break it back down) and for Nathan (it was too hard to play with).  But somewhere along the line, this toy became lots of fun for both of us.  We were having such a great time playing with this thing together that I decided to scrap my original idea for today's photograph and take a picture of Nathan playing with it.

He has gotten so big.  So clever.  So creative.  He's just my favorite person.  A combo of the best of Daddy, and what I like to think is the best of me.  He may also be an interesting combo of the worst of both of us as well...but that's a post for a different day.  Today, I'm filled with nothing but love, joy, and appreciation for my growing boy.  Glad to have captured him playing this evening, and glad that I was able to play with him. 

Look at that expression of focus.  Every moment an opportunity to learn. What it must be like to be 3!

In case you were curious what the toy's a Hot Wheels mini "portable" track with a Shark that tries to eat the cars that pass through its mouth.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1/20/11 - I Teach Music

Brought my camera to school today to attempt to capture my workplace.  It's I was sitting there taking a picture from the children's perspective, I thought to myself, It really looks like I have a fun job.  Then I realized...I totally do have a really fun job. I get to play with musical instruments and kids all day long.

I'm so lucky that while I do have 2 jobs, both are really fun, challenging, and creative. Both feed my soul and foster my own creative growth while also sharing my gifts and serving others.  Of course, at times I complain about my job like anyone else...but when it comes down to it, I truly love what I do.  I hope that I never have to choose between being a photographer and being a music teacher.  I'm not sure I could make that choice.  So here's hoping that I can continue to find a way to do both without having to compromise at either.

My room

Music Room collage.  Just some of the things that were out today.  The 3rd graders were studying the Percussion Family this week.  So fun! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1/19/11 - Purple Iris

I've seen some pretty amazing flower photography lately and thought I'd give some a shot.  I'm trying to find my own style with these...and let me tell you, it isn't easy.  I love the pastel colors other photographers use, but I'm so drawn to bright colors that mine keep coming out nice and saturated.  I'm certainly no pro at this flower thing yet, but it sure is fun.  Expect lots more flowers throughout the year.

The iris is far from my favorite flower...but they were the cheapest ones at the store. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1/17/11 - Grocery Shopping

Tuesday is grocery day for us.  When Nathan was a baby, it was truly unplesant to go grocery shopping (or out anywhere) with him.  I don't know if I've mentioned it before...but when Nathan was a baby he cried. A lot. I see women in the grocery store, at the mall, out anywhere with babies and I am amazed.  How do they do it?  I tried, but just couldn't. When Nathan was a baby I went to the grocery store alone!

But now?  I actually have time to go to the grocery store by myself on Tuesday before I pick Nathan up from school...but I don't.  I wait until I pick him up from school and we go together.  I don't know when it happened, but Nathan became really fun at the grocery store.  He sits in the cart, offers up..."I love you Mommy" and "I wanna hug and kiss" every few minutes.  He sings songs and tells stories about his day.  He helps by picking out fruit and putting items on the conveyor belt. Now, I wonder how people get through the drudgery of the grocery store without a 3 yr old boy making it a fun, entertaining excursion sprinkled with love and appreciation 'round every corner. 

Nathan picks pears.

Monday, January 17, 2011

1/17/11 - New Faucets!

I know it's very homemaker-ey mom of me, but I can't help it.  I'm very excited about our new faucets.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't get a "before" picture of the other faucets, but I'll attempt do describe them. The old faucets were original to this condo which was built in 1975. That alone could be enough, I mean...the decor of the mid 70's hasn't exactly maintained its groovy fashion-ability in the past 30+ years.  This might immediately be enough for many people...but I can overlook that; I've always been more function over fashion.

However, the darn things were crumbling before our eyes.  It looked like the cold-water handle on my sink was being devoured by some chrome eating worms.  It was DISGUSTING.  Plus, it leaked. The HANDLE leaked! So every time I washed my hands, the counter flooded.  Definitely not fun. You couldn't clean them, because if you tried, bits of metal would come off.  So I waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally, just after Thanksgiving, a very big chunk of metal came off the handle of my sink...and I declared that it was enough. It's time to ask the landlord to replace the faucets.

Now, 3 short years after we moved in, we got them.  Aren't they beautiful?

Yes, photographer friends...I know the drip isn't perfect.  One of these days I'll get out the macro and the tripod and capture a proper drip...but for now, this is what I got.

1/16/11 - Back on the Horse

Well, here it is....finally.  After a long (and much needed) vacation, today I had my first actual photo session in months. I'm so pleased that it was for a friend.  I love a good head shot session with a good friend.  Afterwards it was back to the house to watch the Golden Globes.  All in all, a great day!

Thanks Tara for helping me ease back into work!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1/15/11 - Hiking

Today was an amazingly, beautiful, best weather EVER, day.  Hard to believe that it's January...but I guess that's one of the perks of living in Southern California.  You can't spend a day like today inside, so we went out for a little hike.  Rich and I used to hike a lot before Nathan came along, and it's so nice that he's old enough now to be able to hike with us, almost without help.  We had the best time.

I'm discovering that I'm lousy at sharing just one photo, so I hope you can bear with me.

I'm calling this one the official photo of the day.  I feel like it captures the hiking experience the best.  Nathan truly in his element....all boy...and having a blast.

But...I can't keep myself from sharing these.

Daddy showing Nathan how to use an acorn cap as a whistle.

Busy, dirty hands with the most precious thing a boy can find.  A big, twisty stick.


My wonderful husband asked to hold the camera for a minute to capture me on the hike too. I love this photo that he snapped!

Friday, January 14, 2011

1/14/11 - Still Life Attempt

Tried something different....and I'm not sure I pulled it off.  This is, however, pretty much what the 365 project is all about....extending myself and trying things that may be out of my comfort zone.  Lots of things I'll change next time. So here you have it.  My flawed attempt at a still life. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1/13/11 - My Husband Does Dishes

My husband is a great guy...and here's proof.  A long time ago we made a deal that if I make dinner, he'll do the dishes...and he really does.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1/12/11 - Ouch

I kept forgetting my camera today.  Had several ideas for photos but was just too busy today to remember the camera.  Luckily for me, Nathan gave me a splendid photo opportunity this evening.  As he was in the bathroom washing his sticky, lollipop hands, we hear a loud "thud" followed by very honest screaming.  I walk in the bathroom to see my child's mouth and hands covered in blood.  And I did what any decent mother would do when they see their child covered in blood...I flipped out. Momentarily.  Then I remembered that I'm supposed to be calm, so I very quickly composed myself and told Nathan that he was fine and everything was alright. was. No broken teeth.  No stitches needed. Just lots and lots of very scary looking blood.  Poor boy.

Here he is, after a dose of children's Tylenol and a tasty, strawberry Popsicle. My poor boy has a boo boo.

50mm, 1/60, f/1.4, ISO 2500.  No a very dark room.  That lovely light on his face is the glow from Mario Cart. :)

Good news.  It turns out that playing Mario Cart with Daddy is the best and most magical medicine of all. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11/11 - Cool Car!

Tuesday is grocery day for us. I pick Nathan up from school and we head on over to the grocery store.  I loathe grocery day...but Nathan loves it.  Mostly because when he's a good listener he gets to pick out a new Hot Wheels car.   Here is Nathan's newest acquisition.  I think he chose well.

Nathan is a really good listener, so we almost always get a new car. We've got cars coming out our ears! At some point I'm going to have to convince him that if a new car comes in, an old one goes out.  I do not look forward to that day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

1/10/11 - Wonderful World

Here is the first hurried...gotta snap something...picture of the project.  Today was a rough day.  Tomorrow is my first day back to work after a long vacation, and I'm just not that good at switching gears.  I've been stressing and worried all day.  Nathan has been a bit sick today and so he's been needing his mama and I haven't had the chance to really focus on the things I needed to accomplish today.  I planned on really getting some work done during his nap...which sadly was only about 30 minutes today. UGH!  I have chorus tonight, and I'm not ready for that either.  I finally printed off the music that (although I've never once looked at it) I'm supposed to have memorized tonight.  Lucky for me it's a long drive to chorus and I'm a really quick learner. 

I'm just not feeling like I can do anything right today.  One of those days.  Here's hoping that the title of the song I will soon have memorized sinks in soon and helps drive away my anxiousness. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1/9/11 - Off the Leash

One of Nathan's classmates had a birthday party today.  Nathan just LOVES birthday parties, and so do I.  Today's party was at one of those kids play rooms.  Nathan couldn't have been more excited, but for's often frightening.  I spent much of the time playing where's waldo with Nathan in the play area.  He was great, climbing, sliding, playing, but it's still so hard, after 3 years of very close and careful watching, to let him venture off on his own...even though I know he's going to be perfectly fine. 

Where's Nathan?  Phew...there he is. Having the time of his life.

Bonus photos.

Daddy with Nathan the sniper.

Ha ha ha!  Fun!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

1/8/10 - Breakfast

So...the fear has set in.  What do I do when I run out of ideas?  Hmmmm....going to try not to worry about it.  I may just end up getting a little redundant.

Today was a great day.  I love Saturday! Couldn't get the picture I REALLY wanted to capture today.  One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is when Nathan crawls into bed with us in the morning and we all just snuggle together.  It's really the best feeling ever.  I lay there this morning with my boys next to me wishing there was some way I could get a picture of that feeling.  Here's hoping that one of these days I figure out how to do it.  I'm pretty sure the flash will ruin the whole thing, but I may just have to get a decent tripod and give it a shot.

Enough talk about the shot I couldn't get today.  I gave up and went for breakfast.  Nathan got restless in bed, so I decided that we should let Daddy sleep in and go downstairs and eat.  Nathan's breakfast, Honey Nut Cheerios with raisins.  I especially love the Cheerios on the floor.  I've included two other photos for good measure.

50mm 1.4, f/3.5, ISO 1000, natural light

Inspired by a photo a photographer friend shared the other day.  Nice work Sadie....imitation...flattery and all that right?

100mm 2.8L Macro, f/2.8, 1/50 (lucky!), ISO 2000, handheld, natural light

Here is an almost right macro I was trying to get of my Mom's African Violet by the kitchen window.  I'm gonna give this one another shot in a day or two.....hopefully I can improve the focus on it.
100mm 2.8L Macro, 1/100, f/3.2, ISO 1600, handheld, natural light.

Friday, January 7, 2011

1/7/10 - Four for Friday

Ha ha....just couldn't make up my mind today.  These were all taken during the pick up Nathan from school process.

At a stoplight on the way there.

I'm SO happy I caught was the reason I brought my camera in the first place.  Nathan's look as he first sees me. It's always such an exciting part of the day. I was walking in I hear the teacher say "I like how quietly Nathan Carroll is sitting".  I'm a proud mama!

Some of Nathan's schoolwork sitting on the passenger seat in my car.  Taken while Nathan got into his car seat.

Nathan is reading the word "Dolphin" on the side of the building.  No...really!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1/6/11 - Winter in LA

I've been in Los Angeles for just under 8 years now but the weather here will never cease to amaze me.  We've had quite a bit of rain lately followed by several BEAUTIFUL days. Two days ago, I saw these pink flowers pop up all over the complex where we live.  Usually I notice these guys in March...but here it is, early January, and they decide to make what I must assume is an early appearance.  I've always adored these little flowers; they smell lovely, sort of like a cherry blossom.  The bees are obsessed with them in Spring which gives me some great opportunities to get honey bee macro shots. Sadly, I have no idea what the plant is...they grow on a bush that has these little pink flowers and small purplish berries.  If anyone knows..I'd love it if you'd share.

Taken with the Cannon 100mm 2.8L IS.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

1/5/11 - My 3 Yr Old Makes Faces

I'm always telling people how difficult Nathan is to photograph. I can usually manage to get a few of him really looking at the camera and smiling, but I must consider that great luck...with a hint of persistence.

Here is a nice mixture of faces I got from Nathan this afternoon as I took him out for a few photos.  We have sad, goofy, silly, crazy, sleepy, rude, shouting, indifferent, angry and in the middle...I give you. Perfect.

Taken with my favorite lens...the Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS.  Love love love!  Natural light... SS 1/320, f2.8, ISO 500, 140mm

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1-4-11 = Procrastination

Here is what procrastination looks like at my house.
So, I've been telling myself all Winter Break that I'll do my curriculum and lesson plan work this week.  Seems like the perfect time.  Rich is back at work, Nathan is back in school, and I still have one week home.  I'm over my's the perfect time to buckle down and focus.

Now, let it be known...I hate to buckle down and focus.  SO, clearly I had to find some crucial, all important...cannot wait project.  And I did it.  Nathan needed artwork for his walls.  Now, never mind that I haven't painted a THING in over 4 years.  I simply must paint 

UGH!  I'm crazy....two simple paintings for Nathan's room finished.  Lesson plans.....tomorrow?

oh...and did I mention that now I'm procrastinating cleaning the mess up by writing a blog post?  Seriously...I am sick.

Monday, January 3, 2011

1-3-11 - Music Lesson

 Was still rather sick today, and Nathan was an absolute angel.  I couldn't have asked for a better behaved and more cooperative 3 year old boy on a day like today.  He kept himself almost entirely occupied with really sweet, innocent and imaginative play.  It was fun to watch as I just lounged allowing my poor aching belly recover from the flu.  

Later in the evening, I had recovered enough to give Nathan a quick music lesson.  The object of the lesson?  The Chicken Dance. invaluable lesson I'm sure you'd all agree.  This led into several musical requests....first, "Row Row Row Your Boat" which of course my musically ambitious child insists on singing in the round. Then, "Castle on a Cloud" which lead to you tube footage of "Lonely Goatherd",  inevitably leading to one of his favorites  "Do Re Mi".  WELL....He loves to play the scale on the here he is playing the keyboard, making up tunes, and making his Mamma proud.

SS 1/50, f/2, ISO 800, 50mm, flash fired directly behind me and up 45 degrees.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

1-2-11 - Sick Day

Here is the view I have enjoyed most of today.  Sadly....for me the 2nd day of the new year was spent in bed with a terrible stomach bug.    My trusty kitty has been by my side all day.  I'm reminded of when he was a kitten and I had just brought him home from the pound.  He had lung worm and was so lethargic...all he wanted to do was cuddle and sleep on something warm.  So we did. All the time.  We created a bond like I've never had with any other cat.  I stayed by his side then....and he stays by mine now.....comforting me...keeping a watchful eye....enjoying the extra heat from my fevered body. :)    Thanks friend.  I love you too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

And so it begins.  The end of 2010 marks a new journey for me, my photography, and my family. 

2010 was very good to us.  It sent me to Africa, potty trained my boy, started him at pre-school, helped me find grace in the face of adversity.  We were blessed to keep our jobs, though at the same time last year taught us flexibility when both of us were sent to work at new locations.  I've grown as a homemaker, a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a photographer.  I'm so filled with joy and love and can't wait to experience all that 2011 has to offer.  We expect there may be some big changes this year and welcome them with open arms.  Change is, after all, the catalyst for growth.

So, here is the first official photo of the project. 

Taken at home on my coffee table at 1 am on Jan 1, 2011.  Inside the glass....Martinelli's Sparkling Cider.  I hate Champagne.            Canon 5D Mark II. f/2  ss 1/40 ISO 800 Focal length 50mm.  Flash bounced off ceiling behind me at -2.