Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Balancing Busy

Friday, July 6th, 2018

This is my (and your) affirmation for today:

Just because something works for other people, doesn’t mean it has to work for you.

My Facebook has been flooded with think pieces, sorry not sorry posts, and memes decrying “kids these days” and their need to be constantly entertained. Mostly they’re complaining about Pinterest Moms who schedule their summers so kids are always doing an organized craft or attending a camp or attending enrichment activities. “Kids need to be bored!” they shout, “It’s good for them to learn to entertain themselves!” “When I was a kid, my mom just locked us out of the house all day and told us not to get back until dinner!”

OK, first of all, your mama did not lock you out of the house when you were 4 and 2, which is how old half of my children are. Second of all, do you know how quickly kids get bored? 5 minutes. They’re bored all the time. They live in a constant cycle of dragging their poor, neglected bodies between horrible available options including millions of legos, dozens of ride-on toys outside, the sprinkler, unlimited Netflix, fort-building supplies, and their playing with the siblings I have generously grown with my own body as friends and companions.

Our summer calendar includes a lot of scheduled activities. I’m constantly watching Facebook for community stuff or checking the library calendar to see if there’s something at least one of my kids could go to. We do daytrips, late nights, meals on the go, ice cream for dinner.

I refuse to feel bad about any of it. No, I don’t *have* to fill their summer because I’m a stay at home mom (and judging people who do heavily schedule their kids during summer because they need childcare is some privileged nonsense – I’m VERY lucky “doing nothing” and “being bored” are even options). No, Caroline probably doesn’t NEED to go to 4 different kinds of camp. No, I don’t hate my kids and want to get away from them. We’re just trying to find a balance that works for us. So yeah, it probably does look like we’re ALWAYS doing something and ALWAYS going somewhere and my kids are NEVER bored.  But literally right now while I write this I’ve taken away their tablets, left them on the floor with a box of My Little Ponies and a bin of Magnatiles and told them to amuse themselves. It’s been 2 hours since they woke up and so far no one is fighting. I just know that won’t last forever, so pretty soon we’re headed out to the library.

NOTHING is as exhausting as refereeing bickering children all day, so yes please sign us up for some more stuff. When we need a stay-home-day, we’ll stay home. When people on Facebook feel bad about their own summer schedule, it’s about them, not me. I’m not raising or lowering a bar for anyone else (except for that trip to Disney World, because every month we’re not at Disney World is another month I disappoint my children).

So to be clear, the following options are ALL allowed:

Doing all the things
Doing none of the things
Making a long elaborate bucket list of must-do activities for the whole summer
Abandoning a long elaborate bucket list completely
Doing some of the bucket list but then taking time off
Going to no camps
Going to all the camps
Fulling intending to sign your kids up for camp but forgetting
Taking tons of pictures of everything
Taking no pictures at all
Letting the kids watch Netflix all day
Throwing out the remote and the tablets and declaring all technology off limits
Feeling like whatever you’re doing is wrong
Feeling like maybe your life would be better if you were just doing it the way that one Facebook friend is doing it
Giving up and not caring what other people are doing

And because I am the mom who chooses take all the pictures and do lots of things, here is some of our summer so far:

Our Whole Summer Is Like This

Monday, June 25th, 2018

On the first day of summer vacation, we went strawberry picking, spent the rest of the day at the lake, and then hung out at a local town carnival until bedtime. We ran into a photographer friend I know at the farm, saw almost our entire Momfest group at the lake, and then bumped into one of our favorite Navy families at the carnival.

Maybe when my kids are older we’ll have super relaxed, unscheduled summers. But right now I need them to stay busy and tired, so they can’t complain about being bored or try to kill each other. Today is the fourth day of summer vacation. We dropped E off at the airport, went to a playground, walked a couple miles around a park, caught a ton of Pokemon, took Evan to a coding class, spent 2 hours at the library, ran some errands, went to karate and it’s still not bedtime. I love summer. The weather right now is fantastic. But if the kids ask for one more snack I’m going to sell them.

Blue Star Museum Summer: Rough Point, Newport Rhode Island

Monday, June 4th, 2018

During the summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day), hundreds of museums across the country offer FREE admission to active duty military and their families through the Blue Star Museum program. Fun fact, you can thank the Obama administration for starting the program in 2010! THANKS OBAMA! You can see a full list of museums that participate here at this link. I made our family a printable to keep on the fridge, which I’ll include at the bottom of the post.

We absolutely LOVE the Blue Star program and plan our summer weekends around the list of local and semi-local places we can visit for free. When E is home and available, we have to pay for six people to get in. When E is gone, I’m desperate for new, fun stuff to do with the kids to distract them. We really really appreciate this program. p.s. Not sponsored or anything, just sharing the info so people take advantage of the program and hopefully they keep it up.

To kick off our summer, we went to Newport, Rhode Island, home of the “summer cottages” for the richest people in the country’s history. Did you watch Downton Abbey? The houses are all like that. I’m pretty sure on Downton they even mention going to Newport for the summer. About a dozen of the mansions are now open to the public, and we will definitely go back to do the rest of the tours through the Preservation Society of Newport County. But we started with Rough Point, which is maintained by the Newport Restoration Foundation.

The house was built between 1887-1891 by a Vanderbilt. In 1922, James Duke (created Lucky Strike cigarettes and made a boatload of money) bought it and made a bunch of renovations to “lighten” the interior, including plaster ceilings and more windows. When Mr. Duke died in 1925, he left his entire fortune to his 12-year-old daughter Doris, who was called “the richest little girl in the world”. She owned it and summered there most years until she died in 1993, when it was turned into a museum. So everything in the house was personally picked out, displayed, touched and loved by Doris. She seems like a super cool, interesting, fun person – many of the priceless art had been repaired after one of her many many huge dogs broke it – and seeing how she decorated each room was fascinating.

It was fun to watch my kids explore the house where Doris Duke was a child. My brain has a hard time wrapping itself around the timeline of how someone who actually lived in that kind of splendor also installed the same Dustbuster my mom had in the butler’s pantry. The kids enjoyed imagining they could ring a bell and servants would appear to bring them juice or snacks. It was even more fun to let them run around outside on the beautiful, immaculate lawns and gardens. It was really easy to imagine Doris Duke and her friends rolling down the hills in June 1923, because kids rolling down hills is universal and timeless. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the house, so these are just from our time outside.

That bridge is part of the Cliff Walk, the public path along the ocean in front of many of the mansions. Next time we’ll do at least part of the Cliff Walk (it’s 7 miles round-trip).

We showed up without a real plan around 11:30 on a beautiful Saturday when the town was very busy and full of tourists. There was plenty of parking on the estate, the group tour left 5 minutes after we walked in, and it lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. With Finnegan in a baby carrier and strict instructions to the kids not to touch anything, it was very pleasant, relaxed and interesting. E and I both enjoyed it – he asked tons of questions – and would definitely recommend it as either a grown-up date or a family activity.

Here’s our summer list for 2018 Blue Star Musuems. There’s one PA museum because I’m hoping to visit my BFF in PA at least once this year and one in Virginia for the week we’re at my parents, but the rest are right here in New England! If any friends want to join us, please let me know. If you’ve been to any of these and have tips, also let me know! We’ve been to The Carle, KidCity, Springfield and the Mystic Nature Center before, but the rest are all new (or mostly new, E and I have both been to the Constitution but not with the kids).

Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

America is the land of the free because of the brave, who we honor on Memorial Day each year. I selfishly hope it’s always a holiday I think of in the abstract and enjoy as the unofficial start of summer, rather than a day with personal meaning. So many families aren’t that lucky. I’ve never been a very good military spouse – I’m not good at volunteering for things, I’m never on committees, I rarely attend meetings, I don’t sign up for meal trains, I forget about bake sales and I’m so bad at military ranks, rates and jobs I’m still not 100% sure what my own husband does. All I know is he’s good at it and he’s gone a lot. I just need him to come back every time.

We had a great weekend that kept us very busy. The big kids had a birthday party, Caroline had a ballet recital, everyone over the age of 4 got to see the new Avengers movie plus we went to the parade and the lake. We also went to the downtown carnival, where I spent way too much money on a few rides and cheap prizes, but the kids ran into several friends and had a great time. The house is a DISASTER and we don’t have a single dry towel, but I’m so happy I can finally use summer as an excuse for my poor housekeeping.

Wicked Tulips Farm 2018

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Last year I heard about the Wicked Tulips farm over in Rhode Island, but never actually made it there to check it out. I just stalked local photographers and Instagram for pictures and then cursed myself for not finding time to go. But I also had a small baby and was counting down to our Disney trip, so my attention was elsewhere. Wicked Tulips just didn’t happen.

This year, I am in the middle of what feels like the longest underway in submarine history and desperate to find things that wear out my kids and keep us out of the house. But I also really really hate people, especially crowds of people, especially crowds of people all trying to look at the same flowers I am trying to look at. I knew the weekends would be super crowded at the tulip farm (they sell tickets and sold out weekends within hours of releasing them) and I wasn’t totally convinced I should let the kids skip school just to pick flowers. Luckily, Wicked Tulip offers early bird tickets on Tuesdays – from 7-10 am only people who bought the early bird tickets can come in and take pictures or pick. It was the perfect solution, especially since early morning light is better than 2 pm light when you’re in a field with zero shade.

The only downside to 7 am tulip fields is that it’s about an hour away, so I had to get my kids up at 5:30 to get there. I bribed them with both candy at the tulip farm and donuts on the way home, so it went pretty well. We made it back and I dropped the big kids off at school before the morning bell.

We had such a good time the first time, we went back and did it again the next week. I highly, highly recommend the early bird ticket if you’re going to visit in 2019, but even if you just go on a crowded weekend you should go. It’s so much fun.

Now the farm is closed for the season and I’ll have to wait a whole year to do it again. I did manage to take JUST A FEW pictures though.

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

The first morning we went to Wicked Tulips it was very sunny. The left side of the fields in the pick-your-own area had some shade from the trees at the very beginning, but the show garden was full sun the entire time.

The second morning it was overcast, with even, grey cloud cover. It was also slightly foggy, but in a way that old shows in the background. I actually like the way the light and colors look in the second set of pictures more, even if they do look like they were taken on a movie set instead of real life.

About 1/3 of my pictures have people photoshopped out of them, the rest was just really good angles, using long lenses, or timing my shots between people walking past. There were several dozen people there both times, I’m just good at keeping them out of my pictures.

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

I’m actually really proud of that one of Linc on the bench, I only edited out one person.

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

See all those people in the background? That’s way less than the sunny day. Most people have DSLR cameras and are there to take photos of the actual tulips, not kids. There were almost no kids there at 7 am.

General tips for the tulip farm:

  1. Wear boots, even if it’s not raining. It’s a farm. Plus they’re super cute in pictures.
  2. Bring cutters or clippers. It’s easy to pull the tulips out of the ground but you get really long stems that are hard to break. You can make pretty bouquets wrapped in paper at the wrapping station but you’ll want to trim them all to the same length.
  3.  The tulips cost $1/stem. They take cards. Buy LOTS of tulips.
  4. The temp at 7 am is 20 degrees cooler than the temp at 8 am. Layers are good.
  5. Bring your DSLR if you have one and whatever your longest lens is. Shoot zoomed in (so if you have the 18-105mm that came with your camera, set it at 105) so you get the blurred background and can avoid people.
  6. You should go. Really. Even if you hate people. It was still fun and the kids loved it too.
Get Adobe Flash player