Saturday, March 28, 2009
I have been frustrated with my pictures in general for the last couple of years. In 2007 we acquired a smokin' hot new camera that upped the quality of my pics considerably, however, something was still missing. Photoshop! Duh! Most of the photos that I admire by other people have been tweaked to some degree or another. So why not mine? And so...a new obsession is born. This program is a whopper. I can forsee many late nights and sore backs from studying and playing with this baby. But my pictures are gonna look fantastic so it'll all be worth it!! Just look at the difference...
This first pic is of my cutie pie nephew, straight up and unedited.
Now here it is after applying the first action...
And here is an action on top of another action...
After messing around for a bit with these pics and a few others, I realized that my originals were all very blue. So, I warmed them up a little and WOW! What a change...this one is my favorite.
This is so great! Just think how excellent my scrapbook pages are gonna look now!!
Uh, about that whole scrapping thing...I never said I was giving it up all together. Just that I wasn't going to neglect my family for it any longer.
But that was probably a lie.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
This afternoon the boys were sitting at the table snacking on their after-school fare and so, not wanting to be left out, I started rummaging through the fridge. Since I'm in the middle of my bi-annual attempt to be healthy, I broke out the broccoli and ranch dressing and started crunching…yay me! The very next moment Jaden is standing next to me asking if he can have some too. Now, this was not actually the astounding part. The astounding part was the fact he'd left his half-eaten chocolate crème Oreo cookie behind to come eat the broccoli!
Wonders never cease.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The final hours of our epic adventure had arrived. Kyndra and her little one were both sick and feverish by this point so Jaden and I made the trek to Colonial Williamsburg alone. It was a perfect day for exploring Virginia! The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and children were frolicking in the lane. Actually, Jaden was the only frolicking child. Apparently children are supposed to attend school on Wednesdays in February and are not supposed to be gallivanting across the countryside with their mothers. In my defense though, we were in Williamsburg and Jaden's class had been studying Colonial America prior to our gallivanting. Anyway, Williamsburg is a fascinating place full of people in period dress doing period things like making shoes and wigs and such. The main street is even littered with piles of horse manure. How authentic. It turns out, however, that Williamsburg is not a particularly hands-on kind of place. It's more of a look-and-listen kind of place. Did you know that 6-year old boys are not look-and-listen kinds of creatures? Of all the very cool look-and-listen things to see, Jaden's favorite was the open grassy field (where he could play Star Wars) that sat between two historically significant buildings. Oh well. Live and learn. He did perk up a bit after I bought him a wooden pistol from the gift shop. He spent the rest of the outing hopping over horse poop and shooting everyone that walked by.
After the museum, you head outside to find more people in period dress doing period things, but THIS time, they all encourage you to pick things up and explore and touch and feel and ask questions and WOW! I almost lost the kid at this point…a spirited little boy is a difficult being to keep up with. At the Powhatan village, all the dwellings were open to explore and full of tools and pottery and more animal pelts than I was comfortable being close to. Jaden touched everything, laid on the beds (ick), ground some corn…I thought he might stop to do a rain dance but he saw the masts of the ships in the harbor first and zing! Off he went again. Only one of the ships was open to tour on that day (Wednesday in February when all the children are supposed to be in school learning, remember?), but J was in heaven…more tools and beds (ick again), cannons and guns, but not quite as many pelts so I felt a little more at ease. And guess what you can see from the top deck of the ship? Yes, the fort, up the hill, in the distance. Zing! The child was off the ship and half way up the path before I could shimmy out of the galley and find the gangplank (colonial age ships were not built to accommodate Amazonian women such as myself). Now, what would a little boy find in a fort that would be of interest? Beds! Of course. Thankfully he was easily distracted from the sleeping arrangements by the sound of gunfire. At the far end of the fort, some little guy in costume was demonstrating the firing of a matchlock musket that was easily twice as long as Jaden himself. Now on to the guardhouse…the glorious building where all the armor, muskets, ammunition, and medieval sticks with pointy ends are held. Yes, I know that 'sticks with pointy ends' is not the proper name but who has time for specifics with so much weaponry to behold?? Then! The woman manning the guardhouse (and yes that's funny…Affirmative Action I suppose) says to us, "Has he tried on the armor yet?" Cue the angelic harmonies and heavenly shaft of light illuminating the plate armor across the courtyard. Zing!!
We were thoroughly exhausted by the time we got back to Kyndras. J konked out without any trouble and Kyndra and I finally sat down to watch Mamma Mia. We were thrilled to get to finally watch it with each other since the husbands had not been too keen on having to endure it with us. You can daaaaaaance, you can ji-ive, having the time of your li-i-ife....oooooooo
The next day was loooooong again as we flew home…this time by way of Orlando and Austin. But it was uneventful and well worth it. I can't wait to go back!
Friday, March 6, 2009
Here you see J "piloting" the DC-9. In 20 years, if you board a plane and the pilot stops you to say, "Hi there! Don't you remember me? I'm Jaden Potts!" you should turn and exit the aircraft immediately then ask for a refund. As the passenger a few rows back, first class of course, I think I died at least 247 times. Check out the windows though….LCDs that give you lovely CG images of the ground rushing toward you in the seconds before you crash. How thoughtful.
Now, I wasn't able to do this next shot any justice whatsoever, so let me give you some stats to put it in perspective…30 feet up, hanging from the ceiling, are these planetary models. Jupiter weighs more than 750 pounds and has a diameter of 10 feet. Saturn is 8.5 feet in diameter, weighs 450 pounds, and is encircled by an additional 495 pounds of rings. And it's all made from Styrofoam!! That's impressive.
Jaden and Neptune. I did not enjoy taking this picture. I seem to have an overactive imagination and could not stop worrying about the structural integrity of the hand/turtle.
We tried collecting some shells but the pickings were slim and it was freakin' cold on the water, so we headed back towards the boardwalk. When we reached dry sand, I stopped to scoop a sample into a trusty Ziploc (I'm totally stealing this idea from my sis-in-law in Richmond….whilst standing at their kitchen sink late one night scavenging a cup of water, I noticed on the window sill a collection of little apothecary type vials filled with different sands and gravelly rocks, each with a cute little tag denoting the origin of the sample/special place they'd visited…love it!). When I stood up I noticed a flock of seagulls flapping straight for us. My first thought, as they're circling overhead was, "Gee. This would make a cool picture!" So as I'm fumbling with numb fingers to make the camera work, my imagination started up, or maybe my brain just kicked back on, and I realized we were standing UNDER a flock of SEAGULLS. Ruuuuunnnn!!! Now let me tell you, seagulls are persistent creatures. Just because we decided to part company with them didn't mean they agreed. The flock chased us down the beach…some flapping overhead, others hopping along beside us squawking/laughing at our escape attempt. When I realized outrunning them was not an option, I tried the "idiot tactic" which, loosely translated, means flail your arms wildly about to shoo the birds away while kicking in their general direction when they peck at your new ½ price Sketchers. This new approach worked like a charm…although I think a few of the gulls actually fell over laughing. Apparently while I was performing the idiot dance for my seagull audience, Jaden had boogied on down the sand a short way and was happily playing on some recently installed playground equipment…his Alfred Hitchcock moment completely forgotten.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The plan for the next 3 days was to hang out with my super amazing friend, Kyndra. She's a science teacher/guru and knows lots of great places to visit; so first on the Monday agenda was a trip to the Virginia Living Museum. What a superbly cool place! The picture below is from the bubonic plague/French catacombs portion of the Microbe exhibit. I'm not sure if he meant to pick the dead guy's nose or not. I'd rather not know.
Jaden's pretty into the science thing too, but you've gotta wonder how much kids are actually absorbing in a place like that. Apparently J absorbed everything Kyndra told him because he's still talking about it all almost a week later! Yesterday he tells Grant, "And there was this bad flu that stopped a whole war (Spanish Influenza, WWI) 'cause it killed so many people there weren't enough left to fight. Then it mysteriously disappeared and Mom thinks that's kind of scary, but I don't know why." So why doesn't he absorb that whole 'say excuse me when you burp' thing?? Maybe it would help if Kyndra said it!!
The exhibits were all very hands-on, which translates to 6-year old paradise. Below is a pic of J and Kyndra exploring everything they could get their hands on without the museum employees yelling at them.