Life with kids is ALWAYS an adventure. And I have 3 who are only 3 years apart. (yes, we're crazy.) This is my place to capture the craziness in all it's glory, because childhood only happens once. (thank goodness!)

When you get tired of reading about my kids visit my other blog all about ME!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


On the way home from school today-

Adam: "Mom! Guess what! I was 'it' today."
Me: "Oh yea? What does it mean to be 'it'?"
Adam: "I've been 'it' before and I told you last time"
Me: "I know, but I like hearing about your day so tell me again. Refresh my memory."
Adam: Deep, long sigh. "Ok. But mom, will you write it down this time so you can remember so I don't have to tell you again next time."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And the winner is......

up and coming movie maker

Adam has always had a fascination with cameras. While the other two children are always more than willing to flash me their cheesiest "CHEESE" grin Adam typically asks, no BEGS if he can take up residence behind the camera.

So for Christmas in 2008 Santa brought him a Polaroid Pixie. And, not really to my surprise, it was an awful camera. Sure, it may have been "kid friendly" but it chewed threw batteries in literally 10 minutes, took blurry, grainy pictures, and half the time it wouldn't even recognize that the SD card was in. In short, it was a complete waste of money.

Of course this didn't prevent Adam from wanting to drag it with him just about anywhere we went. And when he didn't have it he would bemoan "I sure wish I had brought my camera with me."

I assumed that the fascination would wear off eventually. When it didn't I started looking more in earnest for a decent point and shoot that was still kid friendly. I discovered there are actually quite a few rugged cameras out on the market, but all were a little out of my budget for what I typically spend on a child's birthday.

So I did what all good moms would do-I starting watching ebay for used/refurbished cameras. My brother recommended an Olympus 770, which is an archived model that is shockproof, waterproof, and crushproof. He also found a used one on ebay for $100. Still a tad more than I would typically spend on a birthday, but loads cheaper than the new ones I was looking at.

Which is why I got REALLY excited when I found one on the local classifieds and the guy agreed to sell it to me for $80. I did a little happy dance and ran to the bank to get cash.

And then the seller started ignoring me. He wouldn't return my phone calls, text messages or emails. After several failed attempts to coordinate a pick up location I gave up, finding myself back at square 1. No camera, and a birthday fast approaching.

So I started looking at new again, telling myself if I swallowed the high price it would be an investment that would survive all 3 kids for years to come.

So now I had to make a decision. After much research I narrowed it down to four rugged camera choices:

The Olympus Stylus Tough 3000

The Canon Powershot D10

The Pentax Optio W80

The Panasonic Luminx DMC-TS2

And after much study came to one conclusion: Camera makers come up with the worst names for their camera models! Why can't they just call it "Canon Tough Camera 1" and then next year's model can be "Canon Tough Camera 2" and so on. But hey, what do I know?

The one conclusion I didn't come to was which camera to actually buy. There were so many variables. Price, picture quality, video quality, manual setting options, not to mention how rugged they ACTUALLY turned out to be in the hands of real users and not just in a test lab setting.

I poured over reviews and opinions for days and days finding myself right smack in the middle of analysis paralysis when my brother-in-law brought my attention to the day's woot. A teal Kodak C180 10.2 MP camera for $50. And at that price I forgot all about ruggedness and decided to buy the cheap camera and with what was left over get him a neck strap! I know, I'm a sell out. But at least now I can afford to give him a little birthday cake with his camera.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photography as Life

Note from Nicole-this post is actually a something I wrote for my other blog, have decided to cross post this at my other blog, The Nicole Show As I read back through it again I though that since so much of what I learned at PhotoCamp had to do with my relationship to my kids that I should cross post it here as well. For you crazy readers that stop by both blogs (all 3 of you) sorry for the repetition!

I probably should've Googled that title before using it. I'm pretty sure somebody has it Copyrighted, because that is all the rage these days. Ever since the days of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten it seems everybody is taking whatever it is they like or are good at and make it a metaphor for life. I'll be the first to admit that it's a bit "Chicken Soup for the Soul"-ish. Canned stories that are meant to force emotion out of you. I hate forced sentimentality. Which is why I almost talked myself out of writing this blog post.

But I the more I pondered on it the more I felt it needed to be written. I had an amazing day today at PhotoCamp Utah and I am bursting. I need to take a moment to reflect on and be grateful for the time I spent. I need to take a moment to be still and to really internalize the messages the universe sent me today or else by tomorrow it will be life as usual.

The biggest lessons I took away from PhotoCamp today have very little to do with photography. I did learn about light modifiers and speed lights and composition and photoshop-and these things will help me be a better photographer. But I learned so much more, that if I let it, will help me be a better person.

Today's first lesson came from the morning's first keynote speaker, Bruce Hucko. He was talking about spending time with the Navajo years ago, teaching art and photography to kindergarten students. He showed a picture of a young child jumping high in the air and talked about how all the mesas in the landscape and how the children would run and jump and how when friends would come visit him they would watch the children with worried expressions and say "Aren't you going to tell them to be careful?" Bruce's response was "Why would I put doubt in their minds when they know they can do this? They've been playing on these mesas since the time they could crawl."

And that's when it hit me! Doubt is a learned trait! A child thinks they can do anything! Every child thinks he is a great artist, a great singer, a great story teller, a great climber, a great dancer, a great photographer. I quickly took stock of the ways I may be planting the seeds of doubt in my own children. How often do I force my own doubts and fears upon them? And why do I do that? I teach them to compare themselves. I teach them to second guess their abilities. I am the one who teaches them they are "not enough". And I don't want to send my children that message anymore! Because they ARE great!

The next lesson I learned came during the "Take Hot Shots not Head Shots workshop taught by Todd Keith and Renee Lee of BellaOra Studios. Renee was talking about photo composition. She was talking about all the extraneous stuff that ends up in our photos because we aren't paying attention. She said "If something is not adding to your photo, it's distracting from it." That hit me like a ton of bricks! How often do extraneous "things" end up in my life because I'm not paying attention? I've been feeling run down and worn out a lot lately. I keep promising myself I'm going to cut back, slow down, simplify. But not going to this will hurt so-and-so's feelings. Not finishing that will let so-and-so down. And so on and so on. But to what end? Anything not adding value to my life or the life of my family is distracting from it! Things have GOT TO GO. If they are not fulfilling or leading me to the life I really want to be living they are merely a distraction. It is beyond time to simplify and get back to what is important.

While all of today's presenters were awesome in their own right and I learned so much from each one I have to say that the highlight of the day was keynote speaker Zack Arias. I can not think of enough superlatives to describe his presentation. But on thing in particular that he spoke about stood out for me. He showed example after example of gorgeous pictures and then would tell us that just to the right of frame was a dumpster. Or that just behind was lovely wall of vines was broken bottles and that the whole area smelled of urine. Or that spitting distance from a lovely green hill a couple is standing on is a massive construction site. As I listened to him talk I realized I walk through life with a MASSIVE wide angle lens. I focus on the dumpster, the urine, and the mess. Motherhood really is just one giant mess. And most the time that's exactly what I'm focused on. I walk into a room and see the crayons strewn all over the floor and miss the one of a kind art project that is lying next to them. I walk out into the yard and see the sand from the sandbox dumped all over the patio and completely miss the imaginative play my children are engaged in. I look at childhood and see all the mess and miss all the magic. I need a change in perspective. I need to focus on the beautiful.

At the very end of the day, when many had already bailed out, Anna Day gave a brief but moving presentation she called Journeys and Destination. Earlier in the day Bruce Hucko had alluded to the fact that life is about the Journey when he said a good trip back home to Moab (from Salt Lake City, a 4 hour drive) takes him about a week. I kind of chuckled and secretly cringed inside a bit at the overused cliche. But Anna's presentation brought the idea into sharp focus for me. She showed image after beautiful image and talked about how this was NOT the image she had come to get. One beautiful picture of a butterfly on a purple flower she caught while desperately heading towards a bathroom. How often do we miss the MOST SPECTACULAR parts of life because we are barreling towards some specific destination? For me right now I often find myself saying things like "well, as soon as all the kids are potty trained" or "as soon as all the kids are in school" or "I can't wait until the kids can do such and such for themselves" There is always some point in the future I am trying to just survive to and in the meantime I am missing this journey. I'm missing the superheros and princesses and galactic battle ships. I'm missing the joys of mis-matched socks and mispronounced words. In the rush to be somewhere else I'm missing the now.

I feel a debt of gratitude to all the fine folks who worked hard to put on today's event, an event pulled off entirely by volunteers! A very special thanks to Jeremy Hall whose baby this really is.

And a heartfelt shout out again to Zack Arias who came out to Salt Lake on a completely volunteer basis, sacrificing time with his family to spend a little of his time with us.


Archives of some of today's workshops, included Zack Arias Keynote speech, can be found at the PhotoCamp Utah website

AAAAAND last but not least-you can go here to see the video that inspired Jeremy Hall to send the email that brought Zack Arias to PhotoCamp Utah! Don't miss it!!!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


My oldest never ceases to amaze me. I know I'm a bit biased because I am his mom but I think the kid is brilliant. He is always coming to me and telling me his "big idea" or something he has "figured out" by thinking things through logically. I should be keep record of more of what he tells me but I'm a mom and I'm busy and distracted and well, I just don't always do what I should. And I always tell myself "Oh I'll remember." But I always forget.

But here are a few from recently that I haven't forgotten.....yet.

Adam spent quite some time setting up a little "show" as he called it. He actually used all his Pixar Cars toys to set up a scene and then made us all tickets to attend the show. He stood at his bedroom door and took our tickets, which were apparently front row tickets as he directed us sit on the bottom bunk bed. (Not an easy thing even for me, and I'm short!)

And then, before the show began, he looked at me in his matter-of-fact way and said "I have worked hard on this and you are going to be so impressed that after you see you are going to want to get your camera." (and, of course he was right. Movie to follow.)


Yesterday I took my kids downtown to the Children's Museum. Something I've done dozens of times before. But for some reason yesterday the kids were particularly impressed with the tall buildings. As we drove into town they just kept saying wow. At one point we were on a walking bridge that went over the street and Adam look at me and said "Is this New York City?"


I made cinnamon rolls Monday night for Family Home Evening treats. They have been sitting on my counter, tempting me for days now. So this morning I fed them to my kids for breakfast. (I never feed my kids sugar for breakfast) The younger two dived right in. Apparently they knew mom had lost her mind and they wanted as much of that sugary goodness in their bellies before she came to her senses.

But Adam, always the responsible one, said "Why are you giving us cinnamon rolls for breakfast? Don't you think they are desserts?" As it is, he ate all his cereal and his yogurt first and then just a little of his roll. As he climbed down from the table he said to me "I am saving the rest of my cinnamon roll to have as dessert after my lunch."

Really? Whose child are you anyway? If you ask my husband he says that Adam is me, incarnate. But trust me, I NEVER complained about having a cinnamon roll for breakfast!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beware what you wish for

When Zoey was saying the prayer on dinner tonight she included this little nugget.

"and please bless that we can grow up to be mommies and daddies"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

I must start out by saying that my "embarrassment meter" is bit off. In retrospect I'm pretty sure I was a HUGE nerd during my school years. But I didn't know I was a nerd so I didn't care.

See, I don't know when I should be embarrassed. I act with reckless abandon and only later do I think that perhaps my actions were embarrassing.

I tell you this because apparently my oldest son's embarrassment meter works quite well at the ripe old age of 5 and I am trying to figure out how to back myself off a bit so as not to mortify him before he is a teenager.

Today is Dr. Seuss's birthday.

You may recall that a few years back my kids dressed as Dr. Seuss characters for Halloween.

Halloween, Seuss style

So this morning I dug out the Thing 1 Thing 2 logos. In my mind it was appropriate to wear to school. It is Dr. Seuss's birthday after all.

This may be a good time to mention that a week or so ago they learned about Pirates in preschool and Zoey went all decked out in her best Pirate garb. And, in my mind, that was totally normal, acceptable behavior.

pirate day @ preschool

I convinced Adam to wear a red sweater to school and just before it was time to walk out the door I safety pinned the Thing 1 logo to both his front and back. I, too, was wearing a red shirt and I told him I was coming to his class later and I would come as Thing 2.

He said "When are you coming?"

I told him I would come after his study buddies. (The 5th graders come in each Tuesday to read with the kindergarten students."

Upon hearing I wasn't coming in my Thing 2 attire until after he met with his study buddies he suddenly became very agitated.

"I want to take this off, mom."

I couldn't understand his reaction but he was nearly in tears. I tried to explain that he could simply take his sweater off if he wanted (he was wearing a t-shirt beneath) but this was NOT good enough. He wanted Thing 1 off, and he wanted it off NOW.

I complied and started to unpin the Thing 1 logo. As I was taking the one off his back he said "Did you want me to wear it?"

I told him that I thought it would be fun but it was no big deal. At that he started to cry even harder. "I want to do what you want me to do!!!!"

By now we were running late so I once again reiterated that it really wasn't a big deal and we just needed to go. I told him it was fine if he didn't want to go to school as Thing 1 and that I wasn't disappointed. REALLY it was fine.

As we walked to school he walked behind me the entire time. I kept trying to get him to walk beside me but he refused. I finally realized it was because I had told him at home that he needed to stop crying or everybody would see his red eyes and now he was embarrassed about that!

Moms! They just don't get it!

I would like to add that Zoey attended preschool today as Thing 2 and didn't seem the least bit scarred by it. Apparently her "embarrassment meter" is more in line with mine.