Friday, September 22, 2017

Thoughts (future and today)

Last September, I began taking photos of the girls before their dance classes and it turned into a bit of a photography project for me.  (You can see a collection of last year's photos here.)  It also created a few ideas in my constantly churning mind.  I really do think that at some point I'd like to try to branch out and do something more in the photography world, but I'm not sure exactly what.  I have the time now to think and that's what I've been doing.  Yeah, yeah.  I've been thinking about it for a year now.  The market here is over-saturated for typical family photographers.  You have to be unique in order to compete with the photographer offering mini sessions for $40 (including digital files.)  And so I continue to think and photograph my kids.

9.22a
Fancy hair for dance company.

9.22b

9.22c

9.22d

9.22e

9.22f

9.22g
Ballerina down!  The first week of school caught up to Baby Chick.


I'll be the first to admit that sometimes small things get under my skin.  That happened this week.   Nikon Asia (and Nikon in general) has been slammed online after choosing 32 male (that's zero female) ambassadors to represent the new Nikon D850 camera.  My first reaction, unfortunately, was that this is not out of the norm.  I live in a male dominated world. I worked (and fought) in a male dominated world.  When I first began working for a public accounting firm through a cooperative education program when I was in college, we were told that women were not allowed to wear pants.  This wasn't an unwritten rule whispered to you in the hallway either.  Skirts and dresses were mandatory.  Can you imagine being told that you couldn't wear pants to work in a public accounting firm today??  Times have changed for sure, but we still have a long way to go.

So while Nikon's crappy move didn't get under my skin, the reaction of certain female photographers did.  Several photographers have written open letters to Nikon and while most were well written, a few, and one in particular, annoyed me for a few minutes.  This photographer wants Nikon to know she's a professional photographer who supports her family with her professional photography.  As such, she should not be included in the category of female photographers who are moms with cameras or momtogs.  In addition, it was important for her to note that she's neither a hobbyist nor a photographer looking for extra mom spending money.  Basically, she put down an entire crew of fellow female photographers.  If we are to fight sexism, shouldn't females stick together? Also, so petty, but I don't enjoy feeling like a second class citizen in the photography world because I'm not a "professional."  Am I not worthy of Nikon's latest and greatest because I may use it to make money to pay for my kids' ever increasing dance bills?  Or because I'm simply a hobbyist?

Okay, moving on.

Jose hasn't been much of a storm here in Southeastern Massachusetts.  Some wind gusts.  Some rain.  It's more of a marine storm with Cape Cod and the Islands feeling the worst of it.  Beach erosion is expected, and there are some power outages on the Cape.  We did have the most gorgeous sunset last night, created by Jose's swirling clouds.  

9.22h

9.22i

9.22j

9.22k

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jose + Life Lately

9.19a

With Cape Cod under a tropical storm warning, Rich and I drove down to the cottage last night after dance and a CCD (no longer called CCD but I'll always call it CCD) meeting to take care of all the outdoor items.  We'd had plans here at home over this past weekend and I was keeping an eye on the forecast.  The cottage is a half mile from a south facing beach and those beaches are expecting erosion and flooding.  I've seen different forecasts for predicted wind gusts.  Right now, they are saying 45-60 mph gusts.

I offered to drive down myself this morning but Rich said he would come with to move the heavier items.  There's only so much I can handle alone with my back.  It was a super quick trip.  We did stop by the beach on our way out of town but it was too dark to see anything.  Nothing we can do now but wait hope Jose moves east sooner rather than later.  

9.19b

9.19c

There's been a significant decrease in the number of kids getting dropped off and picked up at school, which has been awesome for us.  I thought it was a fluke at first, but nope, it's still light.  There are two ways for me to get the girls to the school's entrance in the morning.  We can either park and walk up to the doors, or I can drop them off in the drop off lane.  Last year, it was easiest to park and walk because of where the doors were located, and congestion in the drop off lane.  Unfortunately, some parents park in the drop off lane and their kids wait in the car until the school doors open.  This used to create a massive traffic back up.  The buses open their doors right when the school doors open.  Then the buses all leave and they have the right of way over cars exiting the drop off lane, so the back up would continue.    

This year, we've been able to time when we leave the house so we arrive in the drop off lane right as or right before doors open.  The first day we did this, I cried a little.  They're still so little but such big kids.  When they climbed out of the van, a friend jumped out of the van ahead of us.  They all met up grinning and chatting on the sidewalk.  Both of us moms watched them safely cross the bus lane before we pulled out.

9.19e

9.19g

Not too much going on these days.  The girls were definitely tired at the end of last week.  It was the first full week of school, homework and dance.  I'm glad we (mostly) maintained the same bedtime all summer.

9.19d

9.19f

9.19h

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Last Week's Meals

Last week was our first full week of school and dance, when meant I was back to meal planning.  We've been all over the place this summer so I usually only had to worry about a few days at a time.  Someone now has a dance class every weekday.  So not only do I need to come up with meals, but I need to make sure I have time to prepare those meals.  

Here's what last week looked like:

Sunday - No photos.  Just spaghetti and garlic bread.

Monday - Ribs in the crock pot, mashed potatoes, green beans and roasted carrots.

9.17a

Tuesday - Chicken pie with peas, mashed potatoes and gravy on the side.

9.17b

Wednesday - Veggies burgers and sweet potato fries.  The kids also had those veggie fries that are broccoli and potatoes.  I sauteed some tomatoes while I was cooking the burgers - in case you're wondering what's on top of my burger.

9.17c

Thursday - Tacos!  I roasted a head of cauliflower with taco seasoning - the girls love this.  We had some leftover shredded chicken from earlier in the week so I mixed that up with some taco sauce to make fiesta chicken.

9.17d
Naked

9.17e
Loaded - shredded lettuce, tomato, shredded cheddar, avocado, taco sauce

Friday - Pizza

Saturday - Take out

Disclaimer - I think my food photos are terrible but I really can't be bothered trying to make my food look pretty.  I need to eat!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Growing Pains

Not ever knowing if I would become a mom, it's been amazing to watch the girls grow and change.  But having three infants at once was so incredibly draining, quite often both physically and emotionally, that I sometimes feel like I missed out on the baby stage.  And then the toddler stage.  Now I have three pre-teens and it's really hitting me hard.

I often feel conflicted as a mother.  When you have a baby who will forever remain a baby, it's an absolute wonder to watch your children here with you become little people.  But in the pandemonium of triplet life, I used to imagine the day when all of us could sit quietly and read to ourselves, or eat out at a restaurant without that chaotic feeling.  And now that we have those days, a piece of me aches to hold those little babies again.  

I witnessed a shift in the girls this summer.  Their creative playing dropped significantly.  They asked to watch television more frequently.  (We still limit their screen time, especially TV where it's so easy to zone out.)  I heard, "I'm bored," over and over.  I've read that this is a thing for pre-teens.  I always have suggestions and most are met with pre-teen responses, including, "That's so boring."  I'm sure my brothers and I told our parents we were bored, and I'm quite sure we learned our lesson.  If you claimed boredom back in those days, you would be put to work.  You disappeared outside or in your room so you wouldn't be put to work.

I'm still allowed to do their hair (mostly for dance) here and there.  I want them to be independent but it's nice to be able to make outfit suggestions or braid their hair.  The girls are on the verge of never wearing bows and ribbons or homemade clothes ever again and I find that a bit frightening.  Maybe I'm afraid of them leaving.  I know that's years away but think about the teenage years.  Three teenagers.    

I've been thinking about what I used to be like when I was 10 years old.  I remember really getting into sewing and crafts around this age.  I also read all the time.  The girls take after me in the reading department but not yet with crafting.  I've tried to teach them a few things and they haven't really been interested, but we haven't quite touched sewing yet.  I used to sew clothes for my Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kid.  I think it was a way of being able to extend my time playing with them.

I know the world was a whole different place back in the '80s but I didn't care about where my clothes came from until I started 7th grade in a somewhat upscale town.  Then it was all Benetton, Esprit and Reebok.  My parents' response was no, no and no.  Those were some tough years.  I know some kids start with the brand name/store preference stuff early on these days.  It all depends on if they're being influenced by older siblings, parents or other kids.  So far, there has been none of that.  Aside from Converse sneakers, which are worn by everyone.  There are no stores they have to shop at or stores where they refuse to pick out clothes.  We'll see if that changes over the school year.

I was searching through my sewing area the other day and came across some fall ribbon.  We had just confirmed plans for apple picking with friends so I asked if anyone would want a fall themed hair ribbon.  The response was, "Okay, fine.  But don't even think about getting me a shirt with an apple embroidered on it.  I will not wear that."      

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to avoid becoming a victim of crime at Disney

I attended college in the city and every week, the campus crime log listed multiple thefts of students' backpacks from the university's library.  It was often a topic of conversation.  Don't people know not to leave their backpacks unattended in the library?  Or anywhere, for that matter.  But people often feel a false sense of security.

It's so easy to let your guard down when you're in a safe place, but crime happens everywhere.  Obviously, Disney isn't unsafe or a hotbed of criminal activity but thefts and scams do occur.  Every legitimate guest at Disney wants to believe that all other visitors are there for the same reason.  It's so very easy to let your guard down when you're distracted, and if you're visiting Disney with children, you know what I mean.  Disney does such an amazing job creating this magical bubble atmosphere that it's hard to forget you're still in the real world.

What do you need to be aware of when vacationing at Disney?

The Front Desk Scam

It's late at night, a time when it's not convenient for you to visit the front desk, so the front desk calls your room to inform you there's a problem with your method of payment and they would like to verify your credit card number.  Seems like an easy fix.  Except it's a scammer calling you, not the front desk.  This has been noted as a recent issue at Disney World resorts.  Never give any personal information over the phone.  If you do receive a call from someone claiming to be from the front desk, simply go to the front desk.  If it's in the middle of the night, wait until morning.    

The Pizza Delivery Scam

This has mostly died down but it's still worth noting.

Disney does not allow solicitors on its property but solicitors still find ways in.  Guests find flyers that have been slipped under their resort room doors for a pizza delivery service.  Unfortunately, the phone number listed on the flyer is for a scammer, who requests payment up front by credit card.

If you want a pizza delivered, call the front desk/concierge and they can give you recommendations.

Stroller Thieves 

Unfortunately, strollers, especially expensive ones, are targeted by thieves.  The odds of having your stroller stolen are slim, but you should still be aware that it could happen.  The only way to prevent stroller theft is to leave your stroller at home and rent one, or assign a designated person in your party to stay with the stroller at all times.

I've read many online discussions regarding strollers and there seems to be a general consensus that your stroller is less likely to be targeted if it is loaded with personal, identifiable items.  For example, a big, lamented name tag zip tied to the stroller.  Commenters have even suggested tying something gross looking (dirty kids clothing) to the stroller handle.  If a thief wants your stroller, I'm not sure that this would stop him/her but I would think that the more crap there is to dispose of along the way would be a deterrent.

Keep in mind that with so many strollers in the parks, people do accidentally walk off with strollers that do not belong to them.  If anything, having your stroller stand out is helpful when you go to retrieve it from the parking areas.      

Crimes of Opportunity

The theft of unattended inexpensive items is not uncommon.  I label these as crimes of opportunity - other guests who don't have morals and believe it's okay to steal from others.  Oh, look.  There's a Mickey Mouse plush in this unattended stroller.  I'll just take it for Little Bobby so I don't have to buy him one.  Here you go, Little Bobby.  Souvenirs go missing from strollers all the time.  Guests have actually had their refillable mugs stolen from strollers.  How gross is that?  

Don't Leave Valuables Unattended

This seems like common sense but it's incredible to hear how many people toss cameras in stroller baskets while they go on rides or leave phones in bags by their chairs while they swim in the pool.  They're caught up in that Disney bubble.  Don't leave anything of value unattended.  This also goes for bags and backpacks.  Leave a bag hanging off the back of a stroller while you look at merchandise in the gift shop and you may find it gone when you turn back around.

I'm extra cautious with leaving anything in the stroller basket.  I won't keep anything of value there unless an adult is standing in the back of the stroller.  It's too easy for someone to walk by and pluck a bag out of there.  Especially when you're distracted by a parade/fireworks/eating.

A Note on Backpacks/Back Pockets

I would caution anyone using a backpack to make sure nothing of value can be stolen while it's on your back.  You may think you'll feel someone unzipping and searching through your bag but when it's dark and you're in a mad crush of guests all trying to leave the park after you've watched the fireworks, it's not uncommon for someone to push or bump you.  Pickpocketing isn't a known issue (although I'm not sure Disney would publicize it if it was) but use care in what you place in your pockets.