Monday, January 30, 2012

The Photo Shoot

As promised, here are the pictures that were taken a couple weeks ago. (If you don't know the background on these pictures, check out my previous post). It had been 3 years since the twins have had a professional photo. The big girls have had their yearly school shots, which haven't been too bad. But it was high time for everyone to have a fresh look to hang on the walls. There's a young woman who grew up in our church (in fact, Kristen used to babysit her and her siblings), who has recently begun her own photography business. She specializes in birth photography and is becoming adjusted to middle of the night calls. She likes to do creative photography more than posed shots, but I talked her into taking more formal photos of the twins and the four together. (One thing really odd - the twins' dresses are a deep purple, but always turn out looking royal blue in photos - the ones we took and these as well).

It was an unseasonably warm January afternoon in Colorado, so we took got them dressed up, took a blanket outside, and here are the results. I love them and will have a hard time with the ordering of prints.

Here comes Michelle's creative part - she told me she wanted to shoot the girls cooking or baking something together. I decided that muffins would be the easiest, so I set out everything they needed, they changed their clothes (all in animal prints, as it turned out) and she began clicking away. It was fun.

They all got their licks in, but Katie was licking the spoon more than the others.

They even offered to do the dishes - so I had to get it immortalized!

They were delicious!

BTW, I just learned that our photos are being stored in a cyber spot that filled up without my knowing I even had an account. Did you know this? I had to order a bigger storage area - not expensive, but I didn't know anything about it until I got a message that I couldn't load any more, right in the middle of this post. I was shocked.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm feeling kinda like a dinosaur . . .

Thanks so much for all of your concern after my little whine fest - I realize my physical situation is so much less severe than so many others'. I am anxious to go to the podiatrist tomorrow to see what he thinks.

The other day I was thinking about my journey into the computer world, and something that happened at Christmas really brought it into focus. So I thought I'd share my mind's meanderings on the subject.

I worked at a bank from the time we got married until a week before Kristen was born - she was early and it was making the bank officers very nervous that I was still there. That last week before I left, the bank was just in the throes of beginning to set up a word processing center. I had no idea what that meant, but I realized several years later that I had missed the beginning of the computer age, and I had to spend a lot of time catching up.

I was always looking at the job ads in the newspaper, hoping for the perfect job that would not interfere with my kids' lives and bring in a little cash - I did some at home work for awhile. I became a support staff sub for the school district, and had fun working at different jobs most every day. At one point, the district had a project that involved a significant amount of data input, and I got my feet wet on a computer with rote memorization of what to do when. Ironically, I worked myself out of a job, because the project involved tracking the number of hours and amount of money that was being spent on substitutes. They ended up dropping support staff subs for awhile.

As the kids got older, I found two part-time positions advertised that sounded like fun - one with the fire department, and one with the police department. I discovered that they needed someone who was computer literate. I argued that I was a fast learner, if they'd just take a chance on me and teach me as I went. I quickly discerned that there were many folks out there who could hit the ground running, so why would they want me?

My next move was a full time job in a middle school office, which allowed me to get the kids off to school, be home a short while after they got home, and gave me all the same vacations. I soon learned that I didn't enjoy working with that age group AT ALL, but I did have the opportunity to take a computer class as an employee perk. I remember so well the first night when I came home from the first class and said to Dwight, almost tearfully, "I graduated cum laude from college and can't understand a word that woman is saying!" I just wanted her to tell me what button to push, and step by step where to go from there - not about DOS or anything unnecessary to simple functionality. By the third week, we had arrived at word processing, which I loved, and was able to take off running and even help others who weren't "getting it."

Soon I decided that middle school and I (and especially the administration of this particular middle school) were not cut out for each other, so when the straw broke the camel's back, I resigned and went to 3 different temp agencies. I was amazed at how well I did on the "word processing" tests - my speed was shocking even to me. I had so much fun working at different places, including a 6 week stint at one place where I had lots of time to practice my new skills. Then I got an even longer term position, where I learned ever so much more - my supervisor there was a Word Perfect expert.

During that last temp position, I spent my lunch hour applying at Colorado State University. I had to take a morning off for the test which was a requirement for all state system positions. It wasn't long before I had my job there in the School of Social Work, which turned out to be a great place to spend 15 years (well, at least the first 10 were great, the last 5 I just kind of went with the flow). But the learning curve on this job was huge, and we all took many classes as new technology was foisted upon us on a too regular basis. In fact, it was this constant turmoil of technological "upgrading" that made me not unhappy to leave when I did - which we all know was God-inspired timing because of the upcoming situation with Kristen and the girls.

So for the last 3 1/2 years, I have been using a laptop and enjoying blogging with all of the learning curve there, then on to Facebook. I am still a long ways from technologically savvy, but I don't feel the need to join all the new stuff available. I don't even text, which I know qualifies me for the title of this post!

Which leads me to my Christmas gift. My sweet husband wanted to get me something very special. I had mentioned off and on that I might want to have a smart phone someday. Based on the most recent experience, I don't see that happening any time in the near future. He spent a lot of time at Best Buy with the young guys there who are so excited about all things technological. He bought me a beautiful I-pod Touch, along with the docking station and speakers. There was also a box full of funky little extra attachments that I had no idea what they were. There were also two very pretty, colorful rubber covers for the I-pod, so it wouldn't be a victim of my possible future clumsiness. This very nice device does everything that an I-phone can do, except be a phone. I thought it would be great fun. And it would - if I weren't so technologically challenged.

I read the puny directions they include these days - you're supposed to go on line and figure it all out that way. I am not good at directions. Not good at all. I had so many issues with trying to learn how to make use of this very expensive toy that it started to affect my whole day - I felt guilty, yet overwhelmed. Dwight, bless his sweet heart, finally realized what was happening and took it back yesterday - thankfully not too late to get a full refund. He handed me the wad of cash and said, "Have fun!" By the way, I do have a great little tiny I-pod Shuffle, which has hundreds of songs I've downloaded from my CDs, and has everything I need for the gym, to drown out the awful music they play. It's all I need!

So now I don't know what to get myself for Christmas. I don't want new clothes right now. I don't want anything with a learning curve. I've thought about a Kindle or a Nook, but fear the same would happen - I would regret the purchase. Any suggestions?

So I will just settle back and watch "Mary Tyler Moore" and "That Girl" - back before all this technology took over our lives.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bits and Pieces of This and That

Oh me, oh my. It's been 11 days since I wrote a word. And then it wasn't many words, but mostly pictures. I think of bits and pieces of things to share, but then they disappear into thin air, never to return to my brain. So I think I will start carrying around a pad and pen to write down snippets to remember when I get back to the computer. I don't know how long it will take me to publish, but I'll keep trying to get something going. There doesn't seem to be much newsworthy stuff going on around here these days.

We've had about six snowfalls so far, since October. I wouldn't really call most of them snow storms, but just nice moisture. The mountains are not receiving much this year so far, which is not good. When I see people on Facebook complaining about snow, I realize that I am not crazy about the white stuff, but it is so much better than drought in the summer. I hear most of the snow is stuck up there over Alaska and just keeps pouring down on them.

I am getting real here. I am just tired. This is part of the reason, but only part . . .

It has been almost 6 weeks since I got into the boot. I've been treated with physical therapy once or twice a week for the last month. The foot massages, exercises, and electrical impulses seem to be helping. I also do some of the exercises at home. I realize that this injury is minor compared to the physical trials of many, but I have to say I am really weary of lugging this thing up and down stairs all day every day, taking care of the girlies. I see the podiatrist a week from tomorrow (Friday) again, so hope for good news then. He says we must have 100% improvement or it will just go back to square one when I get out of the boot. And I do not want surgery. My back and knees are also tired of the uneven gait, though I've tried my best to wear equalizing shoe heights.

This was such a weird quirky accident - I computed that in my 33+ years in this house, I have gone to the bathroom in the dark at least 12,000 times. Add in the last few years of aging, and that number increases to more than once a night, and who knows how many times I made that little trip safely - I must have been more than half asleep that middle of the night when I crashed into the doorjamb and broke that ugly hammer toe, causing the tendon on the next toe to tear.

I have tried to get to the gym as much as possible, but the only cardio I can do is the recumbent bike. It takes so much time to change out of the boot and into the shoe, switching the orthotic from the boot to the exercise shoe, and then reversing after exercise. I tend to avoid going rather than deal with the hassle. which is NOT a good thing.

So - the other reasons I am tired include adding sugar and white flour back into my diet and losing all of the progress I made 2 years ago right now. I am not only back up where I started, which wears on me, but psychologically I am beyond disgusted with and disappointed in myself. I get up every morning vowing to get back on the wagon, and fail. I don't know what it will take to get my motivation going again. You'd think that feeling lousy and not having anything that fits (remember the purge of my closet last spring?) would do it, wouldn't you?

I keep avoiding going in for my annual physical (which is now six months overdue), because I don't want to weigh. The other reason for this situation is that it is so hard for me to plan ahead for anything with the crazy schedule of our lives - we never know much ahead of time what Kristen's schedule is going to be. I'm just tired.

On a positive note - I finally got to the basement and have most of the mess cleaned up and in totes. I bought 4 more, hoping that what I have left to organize will fit into them - but the more I think about it, the less likely it is that this will be the case. Someday I'll finish!

It's been 3 years since the twins have had a professional portrait made - we have hundreds of pictures, but none done by an expert since they were 1 year old.

There's a young woman I've known since before she was born who is now getting into her own photography business. She specializes in birth photography - getting up in the middle of the night (or she says she has insomnia, so she's usually still up) to photograph the coming of the new baby. She's been wanting to do our 4 beauties for a long time, and we finally got together last Saturday. She prefers outdoor settings, but we missed the prime time for that opportunity. However, it was a warm, balmy winter day Saturday, so she was able to do the more formal shots in our back yard on a blanket. She sent me a teaser, and we're so anxious to see the rest. She prefers doing action shots, so after she was finished with the dress-up shots, we came into the kitchen where the girls created some muffins while she caught the activity. They should be amusing. I'll be sure to share them as I get them.

Remember when I told you about the nativity set I was excited to get from my nephew and his family in Peru? My sister and BIL just returned from their amazing trip down there to visit and they brought back this wonderful set - the pieces are about 2 inches high.

This particular set is very realistic, according to my sister, for the area where they were visiting. Chad and Amanda are working for two years in the city of Puno on a short term mission adventure. They live close to Lake Titicaca and the floating islands of northern Peru. The women wear their hair in these double braids, caught together in the back.

The boat where the baby Jesus is lying is a good likeness to the vessels the people use for transportation

The cap worn by the baby Jesus is like the ones worn by the children on the islands. Interestingly, the little tiny baby is anatomically correct.

I am so happy to add this beautiful set to my collection. In fact, I am going to display it all year rather than try to find a place to stash it, requiring me to drag out one of the Christmas totes.

One nice thing happened to me today - unbelievable, actually. I went to the grocery store sans kiddoes. The young man who was checking me out asked, as usual, if I found everything. I said yes, but it took me 3 trips back up and down aisles to get things I had forgotten. He said the same thing happened to him all the time, and I commented that I was glad to know it wasn't just my old age that caused it to happen. Which led him to tell me I wasn't old, which led me to telling him I was indeed. He said I didn't look a day over 40, which led me to ask if he wanted to see my driver's license. He did, and he continued to tell me that I couldn't possibly be as old as my license proves I am. It was so sweet, and I told him he's my new BFF. Even though my body and my mirror tell me the truth!

Well, I guess I came up with something to talk about after all. Thanks for bearing with me as I "bare" my soul a bit.

Have a great week-end!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

How Could They be Four Already??

This is the first picture the nurses took of Katie and Emma together out of their little incubators. I love it so much.

I loved holding them and feeding them together --

Best buddies, consolation

First birthday portraits

Second birthday party - Noah's Ark theme - 2 turning 2

They do everything together

Even going so far as "doing" each others' hair

They had two great parties this year - the first was last Sunday, New Year's Day. Great-Aunt Grace, who has no grandkids of her own yet, loves to lavish her love upon them, and the rest of us were recipients of that love and generosity as she gave us all a lovely party in their honor.

Posing with Great Grandma Carlson . . .

And with Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Swanson

More fun gifts - right after Christmas!

Today, on their actual birthday, they had their first "friend" party, which was also attended by their other grandpa and their auntie. The theme was "Thing 1 and Thing 2", from "The Cat in the Hat."

The little girls who were already there met the rest at the door --

The cupcakes were meant to represent the Things - the red velvet cake and the blue cotton candy "hair."

They had blue Kool-Aid and blue icees - thus, the blue mouth --

They enjoyed their snack time together --

They colored some "Things" --

Then downstairs for "story time" - The Cat in the Hat - didn't work out all that well - just too difficult to find a place to sit and sit still!

Gift time - again!!!

They got these cute wigs with "princess-y" dresses --

Livi posing in the wig --

The girls had a great time playing together with the new toys --

The evidence of a good party - the guests don't want to leave!