Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Photo shoots with kids

I don't really go in for posed photographs.  I dont like the fake smiles and the uncomfortable looking lines of the arms and legs.  The awkward too close to the other person or knee to the back.  Ugh.  And then making sure everyone is happy and no one has a bad attitude. Horrible. Especially when rushed through in 15 mins or less start to finish.

As a family, we have done the portrait studios mainly for the grandparents and great grandparents. It is excellent and cost effective for a large amount of give away photos.  (Photos that I don't really care for.)

This year both kids were old enough to listen to the girl directing them.  They were even old enough to figure out what she meant.  

My girls thrive on silly, so the photographer this year managed to get mostly real smiles.  The appointment was at an awkward time for us.  Right before lunch and well after the happy time. (My kids are mornng people.) But the girl doing the photographing managed to keep the children giggling from the beginning to the end.

Color me impressed.  But I still prefer catching the kids in those candid moments when they have no idea I am watching them.  A photo of a child concentrating with their tongue just peeking through their lips? Priceless.

Or this:

The photo is courtesy of Lee Etherton who randomly stopped us at Ren Fair and asked to take a picture of Ginger.  This is not a fake smile or posed by anyone.  This is pure Ginger and I love it.

Then there is this:

Hey, Sugar, smile! For a whole year we would tell Sugar to smile just to get this face.  

JCPenny's Portrait studio would never be able to capture the personality in these wonderful shots. Luckily, they don't have to because I have at least 5 gigs of real life photos per year of kids. (I already ran out of space on 1 hard drive, so my tech guy had to buy me an external. I may have a photo taking obsession.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kite Festival

This year was the 84th annual Zilker Park Kite Festival in Austin.  

The first time I went, Ginger was about a month old. My mom was still in town from the birth and we decided to go on the spur of the moment.  Ginger spent most of the time doing this:

This year, Ginger was 6 and she was the only one that managed to do this:

That white string leads to our small fishy kite.  6 grown-ups had tried to get her kite up in the air.  We tried with 3 different kites even.  Then Ginger stands in just the right spot and Uncle C gets her attention long enough for the wind to take it and zoom.  It stayed in the air for 15 - 30 mins before another kite got wrapped around it and we brought it down.

Both girls LOVED the kite festival.  The walking, the sun, the crowd, none of it mattered with all those amazing kites zooming around in the wind.  

The week before, when we tried to explain to Sugar (3 years) what a Kite Festival was she was hung up on Festival means a kind of party which to her means CAKE.  Luckily, Hey Cupcake and Uncle W were there and she got a huge cupcake that she obviously though was too pretty to eat because she wouldn't and she got mad when I did.  

Since even my dear husband seemed to have a good time, I hope to make it a yearly thing.  The girls love driving downtown under all the tall buildings.  They love driving over the bridges and being "so high."  The love riding a school bus from the parking garage to the park.  As a matter of fact, I do believe riding the school bus was the second best part of their day.

Maybe next year, Ginger can teach the rest of our group how to get a kite in the air in a huge crowd of people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teaching things I don't know

I can not navigate on the fly like my husband can.  He seems to have an internal GPS unit.  He can turn down a strange road and get exactly where he was trying to get.  He houses a 3D map in his head.  The only map I have is on my phone and I have to stare at it and compare it to my surroundings. Even then sometimes I go left when I should have gone right.  I wish I had a better navigating sense and so I REALLY want it for my kids.

How do I teach what I don't know? With Ginger, I put us in the situations where she has to figure it out.  Don't worry, we won't get lost.  I can usually get us back to point A even if I never manage to find point B.  I'm pretty good at the retracing my step skill.  Maybe that was my trade off for being horrible at the navigating skill.

I took Ginger for a walk a while back and told her to pick a path.  She thought she had gone right a long time ago and seemed to have her landmarks down, so we walked.  We walked about a mile until we reached a park we didn't know existed.  (That's cool, right?)  Since it was not where we intended to go, we turned around and went back.  After a water break at Point A, she decided to take us left.  

Left had roughly the same landmarks, but she says she never went this way.  After another mile we finally got to Point B.  She was excited because she did it.

I knew the way was left to begin with, but I let her lead because I wasn't trying to teach me anything.  When I gave her that first left or right choice I did hesitate momentarily. Then I got out of my daughter's way and let her teach herself a lesson.

I'm sure Robert Frost would be proud.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lost Children

Let's be honest.  Have you ever lost a kid for even a split second?  Long enough for your breath to stop and your heart to race and your mind to say mean and ugly things to you.

I have.  It was all of 2 seconds and I flipped out.  Ginger was not yet 2.  I was big pregnant.  We were in a big box store, during the day. I was on a mission.  (I usually am when I shop.  I know what I need and I go straight there.)  Ginger did not want to hold my hand, and you all know how much trouble it is to make them at that age.  I tried to look forward and down to the side at the same time, but I must have blinked.  Ginger was gone.  My heart jumped, I inhaled and forgot to exhale and I looked at all the people around me like they were kidnappers.  I said her name, once, twice, three times.  The last time with more than a little panic in my voice.  She appeared out from under a rack of clothes.  I got face to face with her and I yelled at her.  (Sorry, mom, for doing my fair share of hiding in the clothes racks, I promise not to do it any more.)

I was not bothered by the nice little lady a couple of yards away that stopped dead in her tracks to see if things were resolved.  I did not worry about scaring my daughter.  She needed to be scared.  I needed her to know that I was scared.  It was scary, times 100.

These days, when Ginger gets ahead of me or turns a corner before me, I don't panic.  I just remind her to stay where I can see her and she comes back into view.  She usually comes back into view without the reminder.  She knows how it makes me feel when I can't find her and she feels the same way when she can't find me.

For Sugar, I was not at all opposed to using the teddy bear backpack leash thing.  I still sometimes think that a leash might be the exact right thing for keeping up with my 2 excitable children.