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Sunday, December 30, 2012

HOLIDAY PHOTO = TOTAL SHIT SHOW

So it's that time of year again, when I try to get the family together and take one photo where we all look awesome so I can use it for the all-important holiday card. As I have mentioned, the holiday card goes out far and wide (and this year, very late) and it must convey the most important message of the season.  No, no. Not world peace, or let's all love each other, or count your many blessings.

No, the message I need to convey is that my family is perfect and happy and attractive and that we all get along all of the time. In other words, perpetrate an enormous lie.


The first shoot (which also turned out to be the last shoot) found us back at Ted's Dad and step-Mom's house:


When I tell you that this is the best of the photos taken that day, I am telling the truth, despite the fact that Ted's eyes are closed, I have three chins, Andrew's smile is so fake it hurts, and William looks like he just stopped crying... Which was indeed the case:


Andrew is trying for an even faker smile while William wails away...


Ted and Andrew are fine, I'm clearly trying to explain to William that he needs to shut up for five seconds.


Andrew looks like he's on drugs, the expression on my face perfectly sums up how I was feeling, William has finally stopped sobbing, and Ted looks like he wishes he was a thousand miles away.


I could have lived with this one, despite my several chins, were it not for the expression on Will's face. He looks so suspicious of the whole thing, and as though he's about to start crying. Again.

The above photos were taken the weekend after Thanksgiving, and it proved impossible to even attempt another shoot. Finally, I remembered the photos we had taken on our summer vacation.


Am I in love with it? No. It's fine. Whatever. I'm not crazy about the card stock either, and was totally bitter when I received cards that were letterpressed, or on really heavy card stock. But that's not what's important about the holidays, is it? Peace, love, and joy to all 12 of you!

XOXOXO
ABC
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Friday, December 28, 2012

A VERY PINTEREST CHRISTMAS

Other than Lego, Lego, and more Lego, my kids didn't really ask for anything specific. So I thought it was a perfect opportunity to try a Pinterest project  that I've had my eye on for a while: The Lego table:


This was one of the more complicated Pinterest projects I've attempted (the first ones were a tattoo and tying a scarf (shut up) so this was a bit of a reach for me. And I had to make two because God fucking forbid that my tho little angels have to actually SHARE anything. But they are cheap, made from the IKEA LACK tables that cost about $8, and four Lego plates which cost about the same. And they came out awesome:



Here they are under (or in front of) the tree in Christmas morning, awaiting the chaos of the kids waking up:


But I didn't stop there, oh no. I was on a Pintrest roll and if there's one thing that my kids are into more than they are Lego, it's Star Wars. Besides I had to do something with all the fucking pool noodles that were left over after I made the ugly red wreath of love, so I attempted this:


Lightsabers made from pool noodles and gaffer's tape. It's genius - they can whale on each there all they want with little risk of actual injury. So I took the remaining red, green, and blue pool noodles, enlisted the help of a willing lackey, and went to town:



They ALSO came out awesome. I think.

So I count this Christmas as a Pinterest win. Yay!

XOXOXO
ABC
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GOD HELP US ALL

What the fuck? What the fucking fuck makes someone walk into an elementary school and open fire on small children and their caretakers? I don't know. I don't think I will ever know. I don't think anyone will ever know.

There is a lot of talk right now about gun control and mental illness. I have two close family members who keep guns in their homes, and I suffer from mental illness. Neither of these facts help me understand what happened in Newton, CT, on Friday.

I believe in gun control. I also believe in the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms. I do not believe that regular citizens need fucking semi-automatic weapons in their possession, and I believe that it should be more difficult to obtain a gun than it is to adopt a dog or buy a car.

I know firsthand about mental illness and the stigma involved in dealing with it. I take several medications on a daily basis to help me deal with my own mental illness. I understand how difficult it can be to get help, not just because of the disease itself but because of the way our society deals with those who suffer. I believe that America needs a healthcare system that makes it easier to get treatment for mental illness.

None of what I believe is helping me understand what happened in Newton, CT, on Friday.

I left work early on Friday and drove the five minutes it takes me to get home, crying all the way. I went inside and hugged and kissed my own small children who were home sick from school.

I have never felt so helpless in my life. What can I do for the families who lost their own small children? What can I do for the first responders who arrived on the scene and saw things that are impossible to unsee. What can I do for the loved ones of the adults who, by all accounts, acted with heroic selflessness to try and save the children in their care? What can I do to keep my own children safe in a world where things like this happen?

Our elementary school (K-5, just like Sandy Hook) has been wonderful. They are now telling us that children at the school are aware of the incident, and that it is better for a child to hear about what happened from a parent than from a peer. I understand that. What I do not understand is how to explain what happened on Friday in Newtown, CT, to my six-year-old son.



To do what little you can, to try and feel less useless in the face of horror, to join with others who want to help:

https://www.facebook.com/HopeMob




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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE

Now I know that this does not sound like rocket science, and it's not. But you'd be amazed at how many people take shitty pictures of their tree. Whereas my photos of our tree do not suck. They are not amazing as I am a crap photographer, but they're good enough for me (and for my Facebook friends, as I am sharing all my tree pictures. Well, at least the three friends who haven't blocked me already.)


Why do I care what pictures of other people's Christmas trees look like, you ask? I am a giver, that's all. Spreading Christmas joy wherever I go, one photo tip at a time.

Seriously, though, this will be the first and last photo tip, cause I don't know jack about taking pictures. Plus, my "tip," if you can even call it that, is simple verging on ridiculousness. And I didn't even steal it from Pinterest, though there is no shortage of tree-photo-taking tutorials there:




However, all of said tutorials would require me to read them, internalize the information, and then use it properly when taking a picture. I can't be dealing with ISO, shutter speeds, F-stops, aperture openings, and shit like that! I have two small children to ignore and a filthy house to avoid cleaning. No, no, no. What I do is just PIN the tutorials and then take the easy way out. Which will explain why my photos don't look quite like the ones above.

But my tip is for morons/really lazy people, so if you qualify - read on. (And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I apologize. There is a remarkable dearth of menorah-photo-taking tutorials on Pinterest. Perhaps you should get on that. Just sayin')

Full disclosure: the Before and After photos are from last year.

Before
After
OK, so what did I do? Wait for it... I turned off the flash. That's it! (I warned you this was for morons.) But look at the difference! Here's another example:

Before
After
Again, the only (ONLY) thing that I did was switch to the mode that has the little photo of the lightening with a bar through it - the NO FLASH setting. And then maybe I had a drink. I mean, I don't remember exactly, but it's a pretty safe assumption. What're the holidays for if not over-indulging in seasonal alcoholic beverages?

Here is this year's tree: 



which is fortunate since it may be the photo we use on our holiday card as our efforts to take a decent one of the family have been... well, "unsuccessful" is probably the kindest way to put it. We're making another attempt tomorrow night. Wish me luck.

XOXOXO
ABC

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

UGLY RED WREATH OF LOVE

Now, I am no Mother-of-the-Year. Contain your shock, I know. But it got to the point where Ted suggested that perhaps I (and the children) might benefit from some scheduled periods of mutual interaction. Yeah, that's right. I had to set aside time on my daily calendar to make sure that I was spending enough bonding time with my own kids. I'm not proud, but there it is.

So I penciled in a half an hour of time every day when I get home from work, and I believe Ted made some snotty comment about "Oooooh, a whole half hour? Wow, don't over do it!" (insert sarcasm font here). This got twisted by the kids, so now our time together is called Mama's Whole Half. We do crafts. It's actually pretty awesome. We've been doing it for months, and it usually ends up being more like an hour (so there, Ted!) and it's almost always really fun. The best one so far has been Superhero Night, but that's another post.

As the holiday season approached, I thought we could start doing some Christmas-themed crafts. Inspired by Pinterest, I bought a few two dozen pool noodles. Now I know that sounds like a lot, but if you spend any time on Pinterest, you will understand. Pool noodles make a lot of appearances. So I figured I would cut some in half and use them to organize my boots, while others I would turn into light sabers with gaffer's tape for handles.  And one of them would be used to make a wreath for our front door.

(Needless to say, none of the other noodle-related projects have happened. Yet.)

I wanted the wreath to be red, because our front door is green and I wanted it to stand out. Hahahahahaha! No worries there, as you will see! Anyway, like a dumbass I cut up all the red noodles for my boots and then had to leave the last two for light sabers because God forbid Darth Vader has to wield a blue or green light saber, so we were left with an orange one for the wreath. But no problem, because I purchased lots of red, vaguely crafty-looking things from Amazon. So here's what we were starting out with:




I had the sense not to try this at the dining room table, and spread a tablecloth, face side down, on the living room floor. Then shit got real, with Elmer's glue, tissue paper, that crafts crap, and scotch tape. It got messy. Really messy. But at least I ended up with a nice wreath for my front door, right?

Not so much.

Here is a photo of the fruits of our labor:


I know what you're thinking. It wasn't ugly enough? I had to go and add on the gold pinecones? Look, things had spiraled way out of my control at that point. I'm lucky this thing doesn't have a portrait of General Grievious on it. And if you don't know who that is, just be happy and shut up.

Then, of course, I had to hang it on my front door. Because I said I would. And kids, though they can't  remember where they put the shoes they took off five seconds ago, or to say "please" and "thank you," remember shit like that.

And believe me, the wreath stands out! There's no missing it! Take a gander:


Ignore the crappy paint job on the door - it needs one more coat that I'm planning on getting to any day now...


My only consolation is that there are no lights on the wreath, so when it gets dark (which is at like fucking 3:30 these days) you can't really see its true garish hideousness. That and the fact that I have tangible evidence that I do, in fact, love my children. See? It's right there on my front door.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Monday, December 3, 2012

READY, AIM... BULLSEYE!

All my grandparents died before I was born, and while there was quite a bit of family money on both sides it was all spent up well before any of it got to me, sadly. On my mother's side at least, most of the antiques and jewelry had been sold off in estate sales and the like.

On my father's side, who knows? My dad was very much the black sheep of his family and probably went through more money than I'll ever see. But he had a good time doing it, which is more than you can say for a lot of people, and I don't begrudge either of my parents a dime, though it would have been nice to have been handed down a bar cart or silver punchbowl.

However, there is one thing that made it down to me from my father's parents' house (probably because he entrusted it to my Auntie Ann Burr for safekeeping). It is a gilt, antique, Federal bullseye mirror. As you may remember, the last time you saw it it was hanging it my wallpapered foyer:


Nice, right? (Barf!) So I took it down and stuck it in the attic. I couldn't get rid of it! I mean, my dad is dead! I can't SELL the one piece of family inheritance he left behind (well, not the only one; there's a grandfather clock for my sister).

Anyway, I started seeing pictures of other bullseye mirrors that didn't make me want to vomit, and thought maybe there was somewhere else I could hang it that might be better. But where? For a while I became obsessed with hanging it on one of the bookshelves in the living room:


You know, like this:


But then I realized that A) the mirror itself was HUGE and would take up like the whole fucking bookcase and B) the bookcases themselves are neither fancy nor built-in, but are in fact from Gothic Cabinet Craft and probably not the right vehicle for the mirror and C) I only had one mirror so what the hell was I going to hang on the other bookcase?

Also my mother told me she thought it was a terrible idea.

But I kept my eye out, and collected pictures of bull eye mirrors looking fabulous:







This last one is what gave me the inspiration I needed. The blue wall made me think of my dining room. And so:


Here it is with the not-inherited, silver-plate (Shhhhhh!) punchbowl:


I love it.

XOXOXO
ABC
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