Oh, Christmas. You are fast becoming my favorite holiday again. There were a few years where I wasn’t so sure about you and your glitter-filled tripe, but throw two little ones into the mix and suddenly I’m all about Santa.
I think we did better this year about not overloading Ellie with presents. Her big gifts were a penguin backpack, a Duplo zoo set and a box of art supplies. “Santa” tried to think creative & practical. But I think the gift that put the rest to shame was from my brother, aka “Uncle J”, who found the coolest play tent ever. It’s now taking up most of Ellie’s room and serves as a home to her ever-growing collection of stuffed animals:
The rest of the family was spoiled as well. I’m proud to say I got everyone into Fitbit! Tim surprised me with an iPhone, something I’ve always wanted but could never justify given our budget. Now that he’s traveling and I’m walking more, it makes sense to have my own phone (and it means I can more easily torture my Facebook friends with photos of my kids, muwahahahaha!)
We also spent a day with our “surrogate family,” Tim’s family friends who we call Nana and Tom. They sent us home with a ridiculous amount of yummy food and gave Ellie a Little People school bus (among other things), which she hasn’t stopped playing with since:
As far as keeping up with healthy habits over the holiday, I only cheated a little. There were two days during which I missed my 10k steps because I was either tired or too busy with holiday stuff. I also stopped tracking my food, but I don’t feel like I overindulged or ate differently than usual. I’ve been a lot more active thanks to one of my presents, Just Dance 2. All in all, I think I made it through the holidays without overdoing it, so I feel really good about that.
I’ve had a difficult time getting into the Christmas thing this year. Not sure why, although I’m guessing a last-minute trip to North Carolina for a funeral and the stress of going back to work had something to do with it. In any case, I just wasn’t feeling the holiday cheer… I’m way behind on shopping, we’re not even putting up a tree until Christmas Eve, and I ordered Christmas cards but I kinda forgot where I put them. Oops.
Last Saturday I woke up and decided I wanted to do something to change that. So in a rare moment of spontaneity, we booked a motel room, strapped the kids into the van and were off to New Hampshire to visit Santa’s Village for the weekend. We figured this would be one of Ellie’s birthday gifts since she’s just as excited about experiences as toys (and she already has way too many of the latter).
It was cold, but only in New England do people still flock to an amusement park when it’s 25 degrees out. We spent most of the time bundled up in layers with the occasional pit stop into a restaurant to warm up. You don’t see Gwen in many of these pictures because she was tucked away in her stroller, wrapped in a snow suit and a couple blankets with a canopy cover to keep the wind out. In fact, she slept through the majority of the park, waking only to eat and smile and smugly prove to us just how easy-going a baby can be.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the park was especially friendly to little kids… there was more than enough stuff to do in the two days we were there. I was worried Ellie would get scared on the rides but she LOVED them–the train, the monorail, the spinning cups, everything. She liked visiting with the reindeer and decorating her own gingerbread lady (and then inhaling it, of course.) The light display after the sun went down was spectacular (I’d hate to see their electric bill) and Tim and I both enjoyed watching Ellie soak it all up with wide eyes.
Ironically, the only thing we didn’t do was visit with Santa… the line was too long for a three-year-old’s attention span. But you know, I don’t think Ellie missed out–the whole “sit on an old man’s lap to get candy” thing probably seems pretty creepy to a kid who is finicky around strangers.
We know it was a successful trip because by the end of the day, Ellie was an overstimulated grouch. She passed out in the car on the way home and didn’t wake up for two hours. Operation: Exhaust the Preschooler was a success!
And wouldn’t you know, I found a bit of Christmas spirit along the way (and a pound of homemade fudge from the candy shop certainly didn’t hurt).
Oh, hey! Yes, I’m still pregnant. I passed my due date six days ago and it looks like I’m going to pass my original due date, which was… today! I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I am about that. I’m just telling myself all the extra waiting now means I’ll have a shorter labor than last time–although I think the odds are in my favor there, regardless.
Since the kiddo is in school and I’m on leave, I’ve been distracting myself with WordPress themes. I finally consolidated all the work I do with WordPress–personal, professional and otherwise–into one portfolio. I’ve been working on some new free themes, mostly as a way to teach myself some of the more advanced techniques in theme development. Plus I’m always looking for an excuse to design a new website. Some things never change!
I’ve also been tossing around some photo ideas. A coworker found a small, perfect bird’s nest on the ground and gave it to me a few weeks ago–she knows me too well! I can’t wait to play with it, and now that the university is back in session there are more potential models in the area. Fall is my favorite time of year for photos, so I’m hoping the new baby won’t totally drain me of all motivation. Even one good photo shoot would be an excellent way to wrap up this rather unproductive year.
Of course I would be a fountain of creative energy all of a sudden… right before I’m supposed to give birth and devote a substantial amount of time to mommyhood. Ahh, well. Maybe I’ll get lucky and finally strike the balance between daily life and creativity I’ve been seeking since… forever. A girl can dream!
I’ve come away from the long weekend feeling motivated and inspired. Maybe it’s the fall air, or maybe it’s that I finally feel rested and “caught up” for the first time in weeks. We spent a few days at my parents’, and the peace and quiet (and the extra sets of hands for Miss Crazy Toddler–thanks mom and dad) gave me some time to think. And when I think, I make lists!
My big to-do list for the month:
Fix my treadmill–or, in the event it can’t be fixed, purchase a new treadmill–and make a point of walking almost every day. I miss my old routine from a few years ago and I think I’d feel better if I could jump start that habit. In the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of the nice weather and walk outside at least once a day.
Figure out where to configure a small studio space in our home so I can continue to work on photography this winter. One shoot per month would be ideal, more if I have the time/inclination. Research lenses and consider a couple upgrades (a new AF prime would be practical, but a Lensbaby with a few inserts would be frivolous and fun–and who’s motivated by practicality, anyway?) Speaking of photos, I’ll be posting some new photos from a recent shoot soon!
Start mapping out the next few years, to whatever extent possible. I’m starting to feel that late-20’s “itch” (Saturn return, anyone?) to figure out where I want to be and what I want to be doing with my life. Not that I’m not happy with things right now, but I want my daily life to actively contribute to more long-term goals. The problem is, I don’t really have any long-term goals–common sense dictates I should start there, no? Part of this will involve working some more on my life list, which is something I’ve been picking away at here and there but have yet to really focus on.
I also got to play in the leaves with my favorite girl this weekend, which was a joy (as you can plainly see.) It was a reminder of what is truly important… fun times, my family, good health. As a Professional Anxiety-Ridden Worrywort, I often forget how lucky we are. Sometimes it takes a simple moment to bring me back into focus.
We’ve had some amazing fall days over the last few weeks… I’m soaking it all up as fast as I can because I know in just a few short months it will be cold and snowy again. Last weekend we took a trip to the coast to visit family and I had a photo shoot with a nice young fella, and this weekend we spent Saturday morning at the Common Ground Fair, baking in the unseasonably warm sun.
“Getting out” seems to be the theme of the last few weeks, to the point where I’m looking forward to a weekend that doesn’t involve, well, anything. No plans, no deadlines, no long car rides or coolers–don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with Tim and Ellie doing all these things. It’s especially fun to see the world through Ellie’s young eyes–simple things like apple-picking or a walk along the coast take on a whole new meaning when I see the joy reflected on her face. We’ve made some wonderful memories and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But I’m also exhausted! I think hibernation is in order, if only for a weekend or two.
Tim, being the saint that he is, gave me a few hours’ break this weekend so I could work on my latest project, a personal web portal. Now that my personal blog is separate from my photography and illustration websites, I wanted a single place that brings everything together in an attractive way. I’m so pleased with the way the portal came out, especially where it was built in just a few hours. Beyond that, I’m finishing up the latest influx of custom orders and working on a backlog of blog posts for Calobee Doodles. It feels nice (and a little crazy-making) to be so productive.
For the record, my kid is growing up way too fast. I don’t think I expected to have a miniature human being bossing me around so soon or so eloquently. We’re living with a very short, very loud, very temperamental camp director. It’s ridiculously cute when she marches up to Tim and demands “Hugs, Daddy, hugs!” Almost makes up for the fact that she’s recently decided sleeping is for losers. Maybe it is, but I am fine with being a well-rested loser!
I feel like I’m juggling everything, but just barely. T & I have talked about another kid, but I can’t imagine how that will work, logistically. It seems like we’re struggling to fit in everything we currently want and need to do, and what kind of load will a second kid add to the mix? On the other hand, I felt much the same way before Ellie was born–hard to imagine thinking of life before Ellie as “busy,” but I distinctly remember asking myself incredulously, “How do people with kids do it?!?”
Now that I have one of my own, the answer is… I have no freaking clue. Nope. No idea how we manage to keep the house relatively clean, make sure Ellie is clothed, bathed and fed, get a full night’s sleep, work a full-time job, have a relationship with my husband, maintain friendships and spend time with my various creative endeavors. In fact, at least one of those things always gets lost in the shuffle, and it seems the key is to accept that you can’t do it all, but you shouldn’t completely neglect anything, either. Hah-hah, because that’s just as easy as it sounds, of course!
Despite the sheer amount of Crazy that seems to have infiltrated our lives, I don’t want to wait too much longer before we start thinking about future baby Moore. I’d prefer to get the baby stuff out of the way sooner rather than later, while I still (barely) have the energy for pregnancy and 3 a.m. feedings, before I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to live on three hours of sleep at a stretch. I think (I hope) Ellie will eventually appreciate having a sibling, too. Just one more minion in the arsenal as far as she’s concerned!
What a gorgeous weekend! Totally makes up for the fact that last week was so unbearably hot. I say it every year, but summer is fast out-staying its welcome. I’m ready for a cool breeze and an excuse to wear fleece, and this weekend delivered on that promise.
On Saturday we drove to Freeport to see one of my absolute favorite musicians in concert. Now, I’m not what you’d call an “audiophile.” I don’t have an extensive collection of music, and my taste has been called into question on more than one occasion by an embarrassing number of people, including my parents, my brother, several roommates, and even my husband. I don’t make a concentrated effort to seek out new music. There are very few songs that move me to tears. In short, music is nice, but it’s not one of my “things” like it is for some people.
That said, there are a select few musicians who I get ridiculously excited about, whose albums I will always buy without hesitation, and who I’d happily pay good money to see in concert multiple times. Joshua Radin is one of those people. I’ve had a total crush on his music since I first heard “Winter.” When I heard he was coming to Freeport as part of L.L. Bean’s Summer in the Park concert series, I literally squealed like a schoolgirl.
The concert itself was wonderful. The weather was perfect, we had excellent seats, and the atmosphere was friendly and low-key. We got to the park several hours in advance so we could reserve our spot, did a little shopping at Bean’s, then just hung out. We watched the band set up and play a couple songs for sound check (if I hadn’t forgotten my camera, I could have gotten a picture with Josh at that point–so bummed! But he did wave and smile at me, so that was neat.) Ellie was so well-behaved, charming everyone around us. She didn’t make a peep throughout the whole concert… just laid her head on my chest and snuggled up. I cannot think of a more perfect way to spend an evening than with my family, listening to my favorite music and cuddling with my kiddo.
Yesterday we were treated to this beautiful sight for a few moments, and I’m glad I had the presence of mind to grab my camera before it faded. I did very little to enhance the photo, just a slight contrast bump and white balance adjustment.
In celebration of our extra day off, we decided to take a little road trip to a local orchard for u-pick apples. Ellie had fun toddling between the trees and helping us throw the fruit into our grocery bag. I got a short video of her first apple-picking experience (she was more interested in eating the apples than picking them), then it was back home to make the first crisp of the season; so delicious!
OK, so it was only a half-second flash, but if you watched yesterday’s Nightline broadcast about online humor you might have glimpsed my “sprouts” photo flying by amidst some other featured Etsy/Regretsy folks.
My friend Sarah gave me the old rocking horse, which was gathering dust in my guest bedroom until Sunday’s shoot. When I met up with this model for the first time, I knew she’d be perfect for this. Her long, dark hair totally inspired me. It’s amazing I’ve been able to find anyone to model for me at all, when I’m known for saying things like “You have awesome creepy-photo-shoot hair!” over coffee. During our first meeting. Because, you know, social skills really aren’t one of my strong points, apparently.
Thankfully, the lovely woman who modeled for this shoot was so easy to work with and practically knew what I wanted before I had a chance to voice my thoughts–always a good sign. She’s a natural.
It’s been a while since I’ve thought about working in black and white, but the stark contrasts in this series made it a perfect fit. Huge thanks to my new model friend for braving the humidity and the creepy toy overload. I’ll be posting more in the upcoming days, both here and at Flickr!