January Update

Written by: Kristen

As I sit here in our solarium trying to catch some winter sunshine at the close of January, I’m reflecting on our New Year’s resolutions and how 2019 has treated us so far. There have definitely been ups and down. I have had to cancel two adventures due to tickets being sold out and finances. I have really picked up my purging of the house. I started Grant out on what I thought would be a super easy 1-2 hour Saturday project, replacing the bath taps and shower head in our master bathroom. It inevitably turned into a full day, phone a friend project (Thanks Ian!). I now have a snazzy new hole in my drywall and Grant is the dubious owner of a blow torch. But damn do the new fixtures look good. #adulting

Bash had an in-home evaluation to see if he qualified for some early intervention services through our county. He qualified, like we thought he would. The program is only until age 3, and since he is barely 2.5 years old we decided against the once a month at home meetings and decided to get him into an early preschool program that will put him with other children his age with learning difficulties as well as his neurotypical peers. They have  speech and occupational therapists that do weekly individual sessions with the kids as well as help with in-class activities. We were really pleased with what we saw and heard when we toured the facility. But, by far his favorite thing is the discovery of our local trampoline park. It is the best!

As far as his verbal communication is going, we have days where he won’t talk to us or we aren’t understanding what he is trying to tell us, but he has recently started to repeat words that we say. In true toddler fashion, mom and dad are probably the only ones who understand him. (Except our friend Cheryl, who was kind enough to share her rice with him when he asked her for more!)

Grant ended up having to fly to LA overnight in the middle of last week for work. It’s been a while since it was him leaving for a trip. Typically, Bash and I are travelling back to Arizona for an extended period of time. We end up getting our snowbirding all backwards and travel to Arizona in the summer instead of winter, but we are able to spend time up in northern Arizona at my mom’s mountain cabin or in the high desert at Grant’s parents’ house, while still very warm…it is certainly not Phoenix! Anyway, it was strange but we were very glad to have him home again! [Editor’s note: the next day, wasn’t a long trip.]

I feel like we have accomplished a lot this month, but it’s not all tangible….or photograph-able. Like,  how I mentally feel more prepared for this year. Or how i have recently had a great feeling of calm and accomplishment with how well Bash is doing.  How I feel that even in a short month Grant and I have made a more concentrated effort at being partners in our relationship. I feel like we have been able to really check some of our resolutions for this year not..off the list because most of these are ongoing goals.

I have also ramped up my purging the house of things to donate or sell.
I haven’t gone full Marie Kondo but I have been heard around the house asking “Does this bring me joy?”. Its such a stress reliever to get rid of what is causing the stress, which if you haven’t guessed, is piles and piles of stuff.  I had never really realized how much anxiety I have carried around because of clutter. Its a slow process, somehow we have collected so much stuff. So finally understanding what is materially important to us and what isn’t is so nice and it frees up so much time. But, we have had a couple of polar vortex events here where the outside temps are getting in the single and negative digits, so CAVE MOM has taken over. Not having to go anywhere, cartoons and indoor playing. Snacks…so.many.snacks. I even pulled out some toys for Bash that we have had stashed away for a while.

Warmer days such as this really have me looking forward to Spring. I’m hoping to be able to get my paddle board out more than once this year and discover some new places to play. Get some camping in, even if its in our backyard. I think, in the end, we are really looking forward to what February will bring us.

Introduction to Photography (well, mine, anyway)

Written by: Grant

I’m rather late to the whole photography thing. Growing up, my parents always had a camera somewhere, I imagine, or at least every once in awhile there was a roll of film going to the store to get developed. Also there are pictures of me as a kid, so that’s pretty strong supporting evidence. The camera itself was nothing noteworthy, just an “I take pictures” thing. I would also periodically find myself on a school field trip with a disposable camera and felt obligated to use it. I never had much interest in them as I was more focused on actually being wherever I was, and the charge-up flash was probably the coolest part. Sometimes those cameras got taken to get developed, sometimes they didn’t. There probably wasn’t anything worth taking a second look at either way.

I also remember a road trip with a couple good friends right out of high school from Arizona up to Seattle and back in my luxurious 80’s Buick Riviera. We ended up driving through Zion National Park, and at this point I think I had an early 2000’s point and shoot camera that my parents insisted I take some pictures with. I distinctly recall driving by some gorgeous scenery and taking pictures of the other people taking pictures. Exclusively.

The idea that I was more interested in living in the moment rather than capturing it for later in a photo carried on into and through college. I had my point and shoot, but it was awful, and took awful photos (as far as I was concerned, it couldn’t possibly have been my fault) and it rarely made its way out of a drawer. I had a very good time in college, met a lot of great people and went to my share of exciting places and events. I remember a lot of them, but much of it is bits and pieces here and there.

Soon after college is when I got my first smartphone, an iPhone 3G. It had a camera built in, and worked better than any other camera I’d used, plus I was already carrying it in my pocket, so I didn’t need to plan in advance to have a camera. I still didn’t much care for photography; sure I had my phone, and it did a good enough job capturing a silly license plate or a noteworthy car in a parking lot, or the bitchinest mullet at the Pima county fair.

Pictured: Worthy of a blue ribbon

I didn’t know anything about exposure, dynamic range, aperture, ISO (at least as it pertains to photography, I’d dealt with ISO testing at work), and I definitely didn’t care about white balance. Digital cameras were just vestiges of the time before smartphones and for people who weren’t tech-savvy enough to live in the modern world, with DSLRs being for the most pretentious and snootiest of the bunch.

I’d been steadily starting to take more pictures after my girlfriend (now wife) and I got a puppy (still a puppy 7 years later), but smartphone camera tech outpaced my needs well enough that I never had any interest in a camera that was only a camera, when I was already carrying around a text messaging and internet machine that was also a camera on the side (and occasionally, annoyingly, made a phone call).

The eyes are open now, but every bit still a puppy.

I’m not entirely sure if it was having a child, finding the first gray hair in my beard, realizing that I don’t actually remember all that much about a lot of the places I’ve been or people I was with, or the gradual maturation that comes with having a steady job and no longer packing up all of my possessions and moving every 3 months that lets one better appreciate the view afforded by a nice sunrise on the drive in to work (even if it’s merely pretty, and not epic), the way a country road darts through a full canopy of trees, or a mischievous smile from your wife, which is far from a new or rare thing, but reminds you of the picture she has of herself shortly after high school with some friends on a trip to Germany in a biergarten while still well underage by US standards.

Editor’s Note: This picture is not the biergarten picture mentioned above. That photo is currently misplaced in a secret hiding place along with socks from the dryer, etc.

At any rate, when Kristen told me a couple years ago that what she really wanted was a “fancy camera”, it no longer struck me as such a silly notion and waste of money.

Since we got the camera, there have been some ups and downs, times when the camera would snap dozens of pictures, and then sit dormant in its bag for days or weeks. More recently, its been in use almost every day, and we get better with (almost) every picture we take, just like our son gets bigger and taller just about every day, whether we can notice the difference from yesterday to today or not.

I’m confident there are *some* things here I’m doing well

Personally, I’ve come to some realizations. A phone can take some wonderful pictures, but definitely struggles with motion and low light, and life with a toddler frequently involves giggling and sprinting across the living room. It doesn’t take much to just take a step or two back periodically and snap some photos while you’re out living your best life. Sometimes it’s nicer to look at pictures of your cat looking majestic, than deal with your cat being her normal self.

Pure majesty, but don’t let it fool you, she’s a jerk.

A handful of pictures of a grandson or great grandson can mean the world to grandparents living thousands of miles away. Perhaps most importantly, I may be the one living my life, but it’s not all about me.

A moment of happiness worth capturing