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9 posts from May 2010

May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

We started our weekend with a trip to Daddy's work.  Yes, he has a ball pit at work.  No, he doesn't work at Chuck E Cheese.
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Next, we went to Santana Row where Gwen and Maddy befriended some kids and they all played a nice big game of chess.

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The next day, we drove up to San Francisco, picked up Michael, and headed to the zoo.  The peacocks are really tame and this one was happy to pose for a close up.  Exactly two years ago we were here and we were treated to a very special view of this beautiful creature!  (See that cool photo, <here>)

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The squirrels were a big hit too.  I know these things are rodents and considered pests by many people but I think they're cute.  The girls can't really tell the difference between a zoo animal and a party crasher that just chooses to live there because the food is free.  Penguins and pigeons are all equal in their eyes.

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In the photo below, Gwen and Maddy are enjoying a little snack break in the stroller.  We bought this stroller for our upcoming summer vacation because we needed something portable that can hold two jet-lagged children.   It's not designed to have a child sit on the back like this but it works great and we've learned from experience that this particular brand of stroller can easily carry twice the recommended payload.   When you have a tired child, you have only a couple of options and this stroller gives us one more.  Thankfully.

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Michael will turn 22 this week.  Loving him all these years has made me appreciate my little girls more because I know first hand just how quickly they'll grow up.   We're so honored that he wants to spend time with us even though he's a grown man and not obligated to hang out with us at all.  On top of that, he puts up with this Momma constantly sticking a camera in his face!  

Three photo bw

Black & White Wednesday

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And here is Gwen with one of her trademark sticks.  This one was snapped (nearly) in two and then fashioned into chopsticks.  What could be more fun than that?
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After a very long and busy day, we settled into our hotel room at the Hyatt (Embarcadero). We found this hotel last Christmas and made a mental note to call them for a reservation next time we were looking to spend the night in The City.   We thought the beautiful lights hanging from the ceiling were part of their Christmas decor so we were kinda excited to see that they're still up and, presumably, permanent. 

Up in our room on the 6th floor, we got the kids situated into their' Aerobeds and we all settled in to watch "The Spy Next Door" with Jackie Chan.  Probably the most stupid movie ever made but the girls didn't seem to care. 

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After the movie, Mommy and Daddy went to bed while the girls giggled and whispered and played in the dark.  Since they don't share a room at home (their choice), sleeping together at the hotel was a real treat so we let them stay up late and dared to look forward to possibly sleeping in as a result.  Nope.  That didn't happen.  But it's okay and we got a nice early start on the last day of our 3 day weekend!

Monday morning, Michael and Kelsey met us at the hotel for breakfast and then we took Kelsey to work and the rest of us headed to Lands End Trail (west of the GG bridge).  The trail is long and winding and steep in some places but the views are spectacular!  It was a bit overcast so the sky was white and not really conducive to good photography so we left the big camera in the car and I just tucked our little point and shoot (S90) into my pocket.

Michael herded Gwen and Maddy along the first part of the narrow path while Andrew and I dragged along behind them.  As the terrain got more steep, Michael casually turned around to inform us that there would be "lots of stairs" to which Andrew immediately (jokingly) replied "That's okay, we usually just tell people that they're adopted".  Get it?  "Lots of stares"??  Funny!  See why I married him?  He always makes us laugh.

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Daddy amused the girls by pretending to be their prisoner -- a game our daughters never grow tired of.  Gwen handcuffed him with her hot pink hoodie sleeves and made him march along while Maddy stood guard with a rifle (aka a stick).  At one point, Gwen was fed up with her irreverent and unrepentant captive and ordered Maddy to just shoot him!  You really had to hear her say it in that super sweet tiny voice of hers.  It was really funny.  

Several times Daddy got away and was pursued relentlessly by his pint size captors and the funniest moment of the day happened when he was instructing them (in a wizard/professor fashion) on the more intricate details of escape and evasion and matter-of-factually insisted that he could magically disappear from view at any time. 

Then he demonstrated by swiftly leaping off the path and throwing his jacket over his own head.  And thus, he was "invisible"!  I was too busy laughing to take a picture of it.   Our smart girls didn't buy it at all and attempted to explain to their silly Daddy/prisoner why he wasn't really invisible and that amused the heck out of me too.   Obviously they're old enough to understand that they're not invisible when they cover their head but I wonder when they'll be old enough to figure out that we know that too?  They believe EVERYTHING we tell them.  Oh, if only that could last forever.

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We've been having fun with geocaching ever since hearing about it from our friend, Scott.  We correctly assumed that this spot would be rife with caches and discovered one less than 200 feet from where we stood.  Below is our two greatest adventurers returning from their quest.  They didn't find the cache (we lost our cell phone signal so we couldn't track it) but had fun searching for it anyway! 

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While they were searching up behind that huge tree -- off the main trail -- Gwen found a rock with letters on it (R. I. P.).  She thought it was incredibly cool and wanted to keep it but Michael made her leave it alone.  Later, I explained to her what those letters meant and a few hours later (at bedtime) she had more questions about it. 

It was a really nice weekend!  Beautiful weather, fun places to see, surrounded by people we love!  


May 25, 2010

Black & White Wednesday: Self Portrait (UGH!)

I'm one of a dozen or so contributors over on We Picture {This} (a Mamarazzi blog) and this month's theme is "Self Portraits". 

I didn't vote for that theme and I've been dreading it all month long and going back and forth over whether or not I'll participate this month.  But I'm trying hard to be a team player so I'm going to post something.  Even if I embarrass the heck out of myself (and that's almost a certainty).

My remote control died right after our Mother's Day photos so I had to resort to using the timer function on my camera.  I've tried taking photos in the mirror or holding the camera at arms length but, not surprisingly, those photos were all duds.  Funny even.  I'll share them later if we ever have a Blooper theme.

I took this photo this morning using the timer and a bar stool as a tripod.  I set everything up and set the timer then scurried around to the front and tried to strike a natural pose.  After the first dozen attempts, my kids thought it was a silly game and started laughing at me which, of course, made me laugh too and that's how this photo was born.

I'm reluctant to show you the original photo because I'm 48 years old and never post a photo unless I've slathered some "Photoshop anti-wrinkle cream on it first.  But I'll swallow my pride and do it -- just this once ;) 

But first, here's my Black and White version with the crazy flower/hair edit.  Yeah, I know it's totally over the top but I was on a roll.  I turned it black and white then layered on a texture then thought it needed a subtle little flower the threw subtle out the window then thought "Hey, what if I blended that flower right into my hair!"  See how easy it is to go too far with your editing?  But I like it anyway...

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And here is the edited color version:

IMG_5454 with skin magic action

Okay, I reserve the right to delete this but here is the original photo -- straight out of the camera.
I don't really like what I see in this photo but this is the face my kids LOVE so I should love it too, right?

IMG_5454 original


For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.
More of our Black & White Wednesday posts here:  Black & White Wednesday

More cool Before & After photos here:  Pixel Perfect

May 24, 2010

We ♥ Veggie Soup!

In almost five years of blogging, I don't think I've shared one single recipe here.  I just don't like cooking nearly as much as I like eating so I suppose there's not much to say.    But I love vegetables - just about all veggies - and this soup has turned into one of my favorite things in the whole world so I want to share the love.

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  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 big bottle of V8 juice
  • celery
You really need those first three ingredients to make this soup taste good.  The rest of the veggies you add is really all about personal preference.  I avoid leafy veggies because they don't hold up well in soup but I add just about everything else.  Of course, these have to be FRESH.  Never canned or frozen.
  • potatoes (with skin on)
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • corn (cut raw from the cob)
  • asparagus
  • green beans
  • fresh peas (removed from the pod)
  • celery
  • onion
  • bell pepper
  • mushrooms
  • broccoli

Pour diced tomatoes and entire bottle of V8 juice into the biggest stock pot you own.  Cut up all veggies into 1/2 inch cubes (the kids like to help me do this with our Chop Wizard).     Saute the onion and bell pepper in olive oil and garic salt but you can add all the other diced veggies raw.  We fill our pot all the way to the top.  Bring to boil then simmer for an hour or so. 

After soup cools a bit, you can divide it up into single serving containers and store it in your fridge. 

My kids do not like vegetables at all but I got them to eat this soup last night!  Here's how I did it:

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See that silver thingy in the photo above?  That's a potato ricer.  It's designed to smash boiled potatoes into a rice-like consistency but it smashes other vegetables to the point of being unrecognizable too.  I usually use it for spaghetti sauce but decided to try it with this soup.

This works better if you get the veggies REALLY soft so I heated up some of the soup in the microwave for ten boiling/bubbling minutes then squished it through the ricer.  You might be tempted to try to use a blender but that makes the soup frothy and pretty gross.  Use the potato ricer.  It's nicer... plus, it's kinda fun.

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Then I garnished with some goldfish crackers and they slurped it right up! 

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I still smile when I look at that list of vegetables and realize that my kids ate THAT!  :)

May 18, 2010

Daddy's Birthday Present (BW Wednesday & Before/After)

(roll your mouse over the image above to see the "before" image)

And here is the final color version of this photo?

Like before, just roll your mouse over the image to see the original version.

What I love most about participating in weekly themes like "Black and White Wednesday" and "Before and After" is that it forces me to explore new things and learn new tricks.  And there's the awesome added benefit of making (and trying to keep up with!) some very creative and talentedr Bloggy friends!

This week was my husband's birthday and I really liked the photo I took of our daughters holding his present but there were several problems with the original photo. 

First of all, the photo was flat and boring so it needed to be spiffed up; faces brightened, background made more interesting, debris removed from the grass and their faces, etc.  Then there was the issue of Gwen not looking at the camera so I had to 'Frankenstein' her head (from another photo taken during this mini photo shoot) onto this one.  Finally, I needed to add our iPad screen since I didn't remember to turn the darned thing on in the original photo (doh!).

None of this was difficult but creating the "mouse over" photo change was a brand new challenge and I'm excited about all of the ways I can use this.   I promise to share how to do it in future blog post so check back soon!

Other photos from our fun day:

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Daddy and his girls

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Daddy blows out the candle -- with some help from Gwenny because, apparently, Daddy is too old to have the lung capacity to manage one single candle.  :::rolling eyes:::

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Everyone wants Daddy to open their present first!  The kids wrapped these presents all by themselves.  It took an entire roll of wrap and half a roll of scotch tape and the task entertained them for nearly an hour. :)

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Of course, we know Daddy got an iPad but he also got an empty lens container stuffed full of homemade $20 bills from his daughters!  Almost enough cash to buy that special camera lens he's been admiring for several months! 

I gave the kids a xeroxed twenty dollar bill to use an example and a stack of paper pre-cut to the right size then walked away.  I LOVE what they produced!  Believe it or not, Amazon.com accepts this type of currency (as long as you confirm its authenticity with your credit card information).

May 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Two score and two years ago, a little baby boy was born in an almost unpronounceable town in England and his parents were, justifiably, pretty darned thrilled. 

Meanwhile, 5292 miles away, a 6 year old girl was doing six year old girl stuff and was totally unaware of how much her life just changed.

33 years later, he married her and they loved three kids.  Here are two of them holding his birthday present:

Bday ipod final with texture blog

Tonight, we'll eat Chicken Divan and sing the birthday song over a double fudge triple layer cake while the ice cream thaws on the counter.  Then we'll watch some Sponge Bob then read a book about King Arthur and fall asleep with smiles on our face.    It's not glamorous but it's blissful and bless-full and it's our life and we couldn't be more fortunate to share it with Daddy.

Happy Birthday Daddy!

(and happy birthday, my love)

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