Merry Christmas

Sigh, I took the plunge. I did it. I spent money on me.

That’s a very hard thing to do these days. It didn’t used to be. I had gotten to place both mentally and financially where I allowed myself to not just have the things I needed, but also the things that I wanted. It took me over 40 years to get there but I did get there.

And then it was ripped away with the tide.

For almost 2 years now I’ve been back in that other place. That place where I stay up late worrying about money and security. Money = security to me. I need it in the bank to feel secure. Just knowing it’s there helps me sleep at night, sometimes. Those nights when I don’t lay there playing whatif scenarios for how it could all wash away again and worrying that there isn’t enough.

I’m never going to be as financially secure as I was there for a few golden years but I work hard at reminding myself I’m far from in trouble. I have a good job, and I make a good salary and while sure with two kids it’s easy to blow through each paycheck. I’m pretty good at not doing that.

So today I splurged and spent money on a “want” that I’ve been wanting for some time. A camera upgrade.  My old camera is now almost 4 years old. I just checked, it will be 4 in December. And in technology years – that’s what 87?

It’s had some wear and tear and still in good shape. But it’s slow, for a DSLR it’s slow. And 80% of my shots now are of sports and a 1/3 of those are in some pretty crappy low light gyms. So fast is important. Fast is needed. The (new) Precious though, she’s twice as fast. And her buffer is huge. Which in photography terms means more shots in a row – essential for sports.

I started to do this back at the start of swim season but one trip to the camera store convinced me to wait. Just holding the D7000 and seeing how different the dials and menus are from my older model Nikon – I knew I had a pretty steep learning curve in front of me and I wanted to be able to take that curve on with some time and patience. I didn’t want to get a whole season of crappy swim shots because I was working with new equipment.

I’ve said this here before I’m just not one of those people who can buy a piece of equipment or gadget or car or even a piece of software not want to know how every bit of it works. I have to know what every button, every menu, every option does. Taking on new equipment for me is not a light weight transaction.

So now we’re between sports seasons. And I’ve found a really great resource for learning.

I have a new fan-girl crush on Jared Polin from FroKnowsPhoto. He’s awesome. I love that he’s just so real with this advice and how he talks or explains things – there is no pretention at all but he’s wicked smart and knowledgeable.. He seems like the kind of guy you’d want to hang out and have a beer with and you’d always come away knowing something you didn’t know before. I love those sorts of people.

I started with this video where he just does a walk around the camera and discusses what each dial and button does – he manages to be so basic, but never boring, never condescending. Did I already know what the majority of the buttons did – sure I’ve been using Nikon DSLRs for 10 years now, but I still learned stuff that I didn’t know. (and it was the tipping point for me to take the plunge on the purchase)

I started the 2nd video where he discusses the menu system and while I watched it before – I’ll be watching it again today as a walk through as I set up my camera the first time – he is that thorough.

As if all that “new” wasn’t enough – I’ve also taken advantage of the special Adobe  is running right now (9.99 per month) and upgraded my Photoshop to the Creative Cloud version that includes Lightroom. So I’ll be managing and doing post production tweeking for all my shiny new photos in Lightroom now. More new stuff to learn!

Anyone know any great (free) resources learning your way around Lightroom?

Friday Internet Roundup

This describes every trip I’ve every made to Whole Foods Ever

And then there was this post over at The Bloggess that made me smile so much my face hurt.

The new iphone came out today and good news is your cat can use the new fingerprint scanner just fine.

HULU made me very happy by adding Dr Who this week. Not sure why this makes me so happy since Amazon Prime already had them but it just does.

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Watched some of CreativeLive’s free sessions this week and fell in love with the amazing Brooke Shaden and her work

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Who Needs Autocorrect … I can have screwed up conversations with my kid just fine all by myself

ImageIn the car discussing why her little sister couldn’t play after school yesterday…

Me: (referring to the 8 yo) …then she was so eager to get back to reading her Captain Underpants book. she pitched a fit about doing her worksheets and got in trouble.

12 yo: You know Captain Underpants is partly pornagraphic novel right?

Me: Captain Underpants IS NOT pornagraphic what are you talking about? Why would you say that!?!?!

12 yo: Pornagraphic? I said “Captain Underpants…is…partly… a…. graphic…… novel.”

Me: Oh

12 yo: I don’t even know what pornagraphic means.


12 yo: Mom? Mom?

Me:  Look at that cloud over there.

Food Rules: Or the lack there of

infinite_food_tshirts-rff85332d577c4af7a7189ac6f4bf40ae_8nfss_512 The food rules in our house are quite different than what I suspect you find in most homes. That’s okay we all do it a little differently.

1. Just because I cooked it, does not mean you have to eat it. (and vice versa)

I grew up in a house where the opposite of this was a hard and fast rule. As a result I spent a great many meals forcing down food I didn’t like. The end result of this was not that I grew to have a varied and sophisticated pallet but instead, what I was left with was a long lasting dislike of food.  I view a meal as something to be gotten through or dealt with and it holds no enjoyment for me at all.

I am the opposite of an emotional eater.

In fact, food in general just pisses me off and stresses me out. It carries expectations and emotional land mines. I’m aggravated that I have to source it, pay for it, and hand it out. I get angry when dealing with it pulls me away from something I’d rather be doing. Food is a necessary evil.

Eat what you want.

2. We do not all have to sit down at the table together to eat it.

Mostly I eat standing up in order to quickly get it over with. I don’t expect others to do that. So by all means eat when and where you want but please do not expect me to stop what I’m doing three times a day and feed you or eat with you. Eat when you’re hungry, get it yourself. I have a great big table, it seats 8 but don’t look for me.

Caveat – I make the kids eat at the table still though, mainly for cleaning up purposes. They are messy eaters and I require them to clean up their mess when they are done. This is easiest for everyone if it’s all contained around the kitchen table and chairs. They are not however required to maintain a three meals a day routine. Surprisingly due to social norms and school routines and probably a little healthy rebellion, they prefer to, therefore I do my best to make sure they have the time and opportunity to do it.

3. We don’t eat junk.

You might expect that given the two above rules, my kids live off waffles and french fries. They do not. It’s pretty simple really – if you don’t buy waffles and french fries, no one eats them.

We buy healthy food and therefore they eat healthy food.

Is there an occasional pizza? Sure. But it’s not a regular thing. Mostly they eat vegetables, pasta, cheeses, fruit, and chicken or pork. I’m not a big beef eater with the exception of having a requirement of ground beef in my spaghetti sauce. As a result they gravitate towards the same.

Since we live in Florida – it was inevitable they discovered seafood. I’m not a fan personally but they are, especially the young one. She loves her some shrimp. I make sure she has a regular selection of seafood as well.

My children have a very healthy diet and zero weight issues. While genetics play a pretty good role in this – it’s also due to the fact that they don’t sit around eating bags of chips and gallons of ice cream. It’s not rocket science.

4. The older you get, the more you learn to feed yourself.

Do I expect my 8 year old to make her own dinner, of course not. But I do expect my 12 year old to  take care of her own breakfast and lunch.  And she’s been learning to cook since she was around 10. Now 2 years later there’s not that much that she can’t safely make herself. She is not expected to cook dinner, but she is allowed to if she wants.

As I see it, it’s my job to prepare her to be able to take care of herself. This includes cooking for herself. As a result she has a much healthier and normal relationship with food than I do. She’s a scientist at heart and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen. She determines her own food agenda.

5. Make your own plate with a reasonable amount of food for someone your size. Adults eat more than kids because they are bigger. Teenagers eat like bottomless pits – pile it on. Everyone’s plates of food should not look the same – adjust to what is appropriate to you.

Since mostly I feed two little girls, this doesn’t come up often. But when family  or friends visit, this rule comes into play.   We eat what will fill us up. If you need more, then serve yourself more. If you don’t need as much then don’t put it on your plate.  Simple.

This rule gets me some looks sometime. When I give my kids the appropriate portion for a person their size. They are smallish girls who don’t need 5 pounds of food to fill up. I’m always surprised when people give adult portions of food to children.

6. We don’t eat from the bag/box/carton/packaging.

Get a plate, a bowl,  or a cup. We may not all sit around for family dinners but we do have manners. If you want some popcorn fine, make it and put a single serving in a bowl to crunch on – don’t sit there an eat from the bag like a horse from a feed bag.

7. Children don’t drink soda.

They just don’t. Water, milk, juice, Gatorade, I’ve got it all. Any soda brought into this house if solely for adult purposes.

    So what are the food rules at your house?

My Mothering Motto

I don’t want my children to follow in my footsteps

I want them to take the path next to me and go further than I could have ever dreamt possible.


I believe this is the source

I might be wrong, someone will surely let me know.

Anyway I love the way this sums up what my approach to mothering/parenting is.

I’ve never been able to put it so succinctly or gracefully as this but that’s it right there.

Everything I do is with this end goal in mind.

The beginning of the end for my cable bill

9-19-2013 1-06-07 PMWhen you’re whole life gets turned upside down and you can’t even begin to fathom what is going on around you a funny thing happens. You completely forget about something called television.

This week’s ripple effect how our view of TV has changed.

During the worst of it all, there was no TV. I had no mental capacity or desire. As the dust settled I found I just didn’t care. I read a lot. I was also feeling the need to isolate myself from my local world – no local news no Facebook, –  but spent hard core time each night combing the internet trying to find a world to relate to that had nothing to do with my own. One day or night I saw some random tweet from The Bloggess wondering if she was the only person who cried at every single Dr Who episode or something like that.  I was crying all the time anyway so I figured I give it a try.

I had an Amazon Prime account that had come with my Kindle so I fired it up and sure enough all the previous seasons were there for free. Before I knew it I found myself sneeking off to the bedroom with my kindle at every available moment to devour this show. The girls became curious and I began to let them watch it with me.

I also started to notice that Downton Abby which I had heard a lot about on the internet was there too, so we streamed that. And them something else and something after that.

And then I don’t know how but somewhere along the way we’d replaced TV with streaming. It’s like we were curating new shows and watching from the original seasons forward.  I did a little research and found Amazon and Hulu could both be streamed through the XBox we had. That’s when it really all became a thing.

I started this summer determined to try and not turn on the cable box. And we didn’t.  We watched only thing streamed either though Amazon or Hulu. Old stuff new stuff cool stuff you name it. It never felt like we didn’t have choices of what to watch. In fact the kids have more choices than ever before because practically every family oriented network TV show ever made is at their disposal: The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Seventh Heaven, and Wonder Years are just a few of their “current” favorites.

We have whole libraries of TV available for a fraction of the cost of my monthly cable bill.

I’m this close to canceling it. I’ve already downgraded it once. And there is room to downgrade it one more time before completely getting rid of it. I think for $20 a month or so I can keep just the networks.

It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of deciding to pull the trigger.

Cable TV is so last year lifetime.

Best of the Internet this week

THIS!!!! This will make you giggle out loud …. – Best Line “In the town where I grew up – If I ever opened up a lunch to reveal a tic tac toe game made out of sandwiches, I would get my ass kicked and my new name would be “Tic Tac” until I graduated highschool…..”

And this ..

She’s a kid from where I live, I don’t know her personally but friends have tought her in school, other friends go to church with the family. We all have decided that she’s hung the moon.

Oh and evidently it’s time to start your Christmas List

Cause there is this

Oh and then I learned this because really… who knew?

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WTF Target… turquoise weiner dog edition

I love me some Target, the numbers in my bank account don’t lie. I’m a Red Card devotee.

But sometimes I think the good folks up there in Minneapolis are trying to screw with us (yeah yeah, let’s see who we get to buy this!) or maybe the cold cold winters just screw with their heads a little too much. Either way sometimes you just want to take their purchasing department aside and offer them counseling.

Like with today’s email blast….  Let’s see what we have here, brightly colored plates that are too busy for my taste, dull monotone bowls that are too boring for my taste, standard issue porch rug, curtains from 1952 and oh yes… what looks like a bright orange paper mache deer – who’s had the shit scared out of it.



Someone with a highly covented job in the Target purchasing department saw this in a catalog or a design center and said “Yeah!! That’s what the fall decor line is missing.. Scared Orange Deer! People will be dying to get those home!”    

(Note to Target HR department: Stop hiring people fresh out of design school! Yes they are cheap but they have absolutely no idea what they are doing – remember all those god awful high end “designer” children’s clothes that cluttered your clearance racks all spring and no actual child wore ever? Stop it!)

But back to the damn deer  ’cause people, you know I had to click on that shit.



That’s right, it’s part of set with a turquoise dachshund and a pink poodle  – that appear to be as big as the deer (no wait sorry the poodle is actually 3 inches taller) . A bright turquoise resin dachshund and a giant pink poodle! Well at least now we know what the hell the damn deer is so afraid of!

“I really wish I could find a bright turquoise dachshund I’ve been looking for one forever!” Said No Person Ever

I’m even leaving the giant red rooster and the woodland hedgehog nightlight along because seriously people they are trying to sell you turquoise weiner dogs!


Chris Knight, where are you when I need you (or why I’m being forced into a life of fitness whether I like it or not)

9-19-2013 2-20-51 PMReal Genius is one of the most quotable movies to come out the 80s one of my favorite involve’s Professor Jerry Hathaway asking Val Kilmer’s character Chris Knight, “Do you still run?” to which Chris replies, “Only when chased.”

This is my go to answer about anything exercise or fitness related. And I get asked do I run or ride  A LOT. I am surrounded by runners, bikers, and, triathloners. (Also I judge those people of if they get that reference or not – what can I say 80 geek)

But back to the point. I am surrounded by runners. EVERYONE RUNS. Not just runs, the run till they drop. All around me people are injuried and in need of physical therapy and yet they don’t seem to relate this to all that running.

The 26.2 marathon sticker people – those are the wimps. There’s a guy at work who spent a week this summer in the Marathon des Sables which covers 150 miles of Moroccan desert while carrying his food and supplies on this back. For Fun. No one was chasing him! He finished in something like the top 1/3.

If you don’t have a 50 you’re barely cool, it better have been a kick ass trail run through some serious shit and up three mountains. If you want real cred you need the 100. I have a sign over my desk that says “Only When Chased.” It is my mantra – my high ground. If I don’t complete, you cannot win.

If the don’t run they bike, we have bike lanes and this town is ugly with 40 year old men and women with bad knees and Tour De France fantasies. (Florida is flat people!) They all do crazy things like rides that traverse the state and back and forth and take whole weekends or weeks to complete. Railroads are paved over to make rail trails…  Do I ride? Only when chased. I own the t-shirt.

This year my oldest child out of the blue (or not so blue considering all these influences) decided she wanted to try a youth triathlon. Triathlon? She’s never even run a Fun Run? No 5K, nothing. Straight to triathlon? OK. I’m game. Let’s see how long this lasts I think. You are your mother’s daughter I say…

She loved it. She finished and immediately asked for a better bike. For next time. Ughh.

Shit. I’m starting to feel chased.

I get her the better bike (she needed a bigger bike, better just happened because I found a good deal on Craigslist). And her little sister not to be outdone promptly sheds the training wheels she’s been clinging to for 8 years… Mama can I triathlon too now?

Shit. Is that someone breathing down my neck?

Because a middle schooler can be allowed to ride off for 5 or 6 miles or run for a couple  miles and come back as long as I have a notion of the route. I have no problem with that. But an eight year old? My eight year old who’s not that street savy yet? Who I still have to yell at in parking lots to watch for cars…  Even my Free Range senses are tested with that one at least until she gets her wheels under her a little more. Her four mile route on the bike is a little much for me to be okay with by herself or with her sister alone just yet – bad side walks and one very busy major intersection are in play no matter what.

So now I’m biking  – granted it’s 8 year old triathlon training lengths, and I never even have to shift a gear while she pedals like a little mad Chihuahua still but – biking. No one is chasing me.

At least her runs are short enough she can loop the immediate neighborhood and I’m good with that being done alone.

My only consolation is we stay on the side walk and I can still refuse to wear a helmet because we don’t ride that fast. We just look like a family out for a stroll after dinner. I wear mom capris rather than athletic wear on purpose. I will not dress the part.

That little fact is all that is keeping me from a table full of crow at this point.

I’m in denial.

I’m being chased.

Mile Stones: Biking to a friends house after school

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See those two, as we speak they are supposedly doing math homework that “would be so much easier if we worked on it together”….

Yeah, I know, I remember that one too. 🙂 Those were the days.

Truth is today has nothing to do with homework and everything to do with growing up.

Puddin’ strapped on her helmet and rode over to a school friend’s house who doesn’t live that close after she got home on the bus. Out of the neighborhood and across a fairly large and crowded intersection full of impatient minivans driven by distracted moms late for soccer/ballet/football/cheerleading.

This kid regular trains for her races by doing 6-10 miles at a time but this two miles.. probably the significant she’s ever done.

With that two miles, she broke the neighborhood barrier and left to go out on her own to a friend’s house with instructions to start heading back home by 6:30 or when the other family was ready for dinner, which ever came first.

One more taste of precious independence.

She’ll be 12 next month and the way I see it, I’ve 6 years to get her ready to take her passport and walk out that door fully capable of roaming the planet on her own.

I fully intend to get her there on time, one two-mile bike ride at a time.