Saturday, April 30, 2011

Editing to create the perfect shot

Day 46: A picture that I edited.Truth 46: I suck at taking pictures. Editing software is my friend.

This particular shot was taken in June of 2009. Rachel was only a couple months old; Eric was 17 months. It was the first time the kids had "played together." Rachel was under her baby Einstein mat, staring at Star. Eric started kicking at the poles, making Star sing for Rachel. Then Eric turned and wrapped his arms around his sister. I am so grateful I got the shot. It became our first family Christmas card (mostly because mom and dad are adverse to having our pictures taken while our kids have no choice in the matter). :-)

Friday, April 29, 2011

A favorite cartoon character

I'll give you a hint: it's not Caillou! :-)Day 45: A picture of my favorite cartoon character. So my question is: do comic book characters count? I say "yes."

The reason why Nightcrawler of X-Men fame makes this cut over Boba Fett and Marvin the Martian is due to his faith. Nightcrawler is the only comic book/ cartoon character that I know of that is a devout Catholic. His Christian faith underlies everything he does. I like Boba Fett because he's just extremely cool. I like Marvin the Martian due to his wanting to obliterate Earth as it obstructs his view of Venus. But I love Nightcrawler as someone I can admire.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I hate spring

Day 44- A picture that describes my life
Eczema sucks.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrating Life and Love

Day Whatever-the-heck-I'm-on... A picture of me celebrating.

Last weekend John and I traveled to San Antonio, Texas for Mariko's wedding. The weekend was amazing on several levels:

1) I got to see my best friend marry John's co-worker. We introduced them 5 years ago, but didn't think we had made a match. Turns out we were wrong. They just took FOREVER to finally tie the knot...
P.S. I'm 2 for 2 on the only matching-making I have ever purposefully done. Just in case anyone is looking to pay me to set them up... :-)

This picture is my favorite. Mariko is walking down the aisle. She and her father look so happy.
2) John and I got to travel without children. This is the first time I've been on a plane since before Rachel was born. Just thinking about flying with my kids terrifies me. They can't sit still at home. God only knows what horror they would inflict on passengers in a confined space. Rachel is perfectly capable of screaming for an hour straight on shopping trips. God help us when we actually take the plunge and fly with our children.
3) I finally got to visit San Antonio, home to Mariko and Karen. I have heard so much about the city through my friends. Mariko planned her wedding during Fiesta, so there was a ton of stuff to do. Unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of time, AND there were a ton of people. The ride from the airport to our hotel was crazy in and of itself. Either the cab driver had never driven downtown during Fiesta, or he was trying to run up the fare because what was supposed to be a $25 ride according to travel sites turned out to be $50. AND we had to walk to the hotel. But enough margaritas and roasted salsa makes everything rosy. That and businessmen with per diem who offer to pay your taxi fare. :-)

I got some great pictures of the wedding. Some of M's Georgetown buddies threw Fiesta confetti at her during the cocktail hour... She and John Lewis were married in a Spanish courtyard at the hotel. The weather was gorgeous, and with the parades and bands playing in the background, it was like the whole city was celebrating with us. Congratulations, M and Lewis!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Listening to music

Today's challenge is a picture of me listening to music. And is it just me, or are these getting a bit silly?

I'm pretty sure I'm making pasta in this shot because it's all my kids eat.
As for what I'm listening to on my red ipod, I couldn't tell you. It could be anything from Michael W. Smith to Alice Cooper. I think my kids are just grateful I'm not singing...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The calm before the storm

A picture of my favorite weather...There's something about a violent storm during the day... I simply love how the sky gets dark and everything becomes eerily quiet right before the rain hits. I love the thunder rumbling in the distance, gradually coming ever closer. I enjoy watching the flashes of lightning take over the sky, but the thunder is what I love.

And thunderstorms at night are even better... I rest in my bed, close my eyes, and listen to God kindly sing me to sleep... :-)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Honey Bunny Homicides

Rachel's second birthday party was today. There was good food, good friends... and one honey bunny...
A honey bunny is an edible bunny made of yummy bread from our local Great Harvest Bread company. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We ate his eyes first (or rather Laurie ate his eyes). We then moved on to the ears, tail, and legs. By the time we were done and the party was over, the bunny looked something like this:

I decided to take a picture and text message it to a friend with the title "Mauled Bunny" I also included the tag line, "Thankfully he never saw it coming..."

Then I get an idea...

What if this were an episode of CSI, NCIS, or Castle?

It was after the party. I was bored. I was high on Benadryl (cursed pollen allergies!). I was so tired that I was punch-drunk.

Thus, the Honey Bunny Homicides were born....

Finally, Honey Bunny couldn't take it anymore...
Yes, I know I need professional help.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Things do not change; we change"

The title of today's challenge is a quote by Henry Thoreau. Which is ironic since I met my friends in this first picture in American Literature class my junior year of high school. We were a motley crew of dorks who found one another over our mutual hatred of morons, conformity, and required reading. Despite the poor teacher moving us all around to keep herself sane (at one point we were literally at the 4 corners of the room), we managed to reek havoc.
Day 40- A picture of my friends.... who are pretending to be dead at our after prom murder mystery party. Did we know how to live it up, or what?

We all went our separate ways after high school. We all went to college; some of us graduated, some of us didn't. Some of us married, and some didn't. Some of us keep in touch, and some have disappeared, not even surfacing on social networking sites. But I think about them a lot. The older you get, the more you need to have people in your life who knew you when you were young.

Today, my friends consist of people I met in college, friends of my husband, old friends from work. We meet in our kitchens, over good food and sour complaints about work, politics, and the craziness of life in general. We wonder how we ever got so old. We laugh about old stories. We create new ones. We still drink beer. So this post is dedicated to my friends: those who are still with me and those who have moved on. I'm glad I knew you. Thank you for sharing a part of your life with mine.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Maybe he's not quite ready to dress himself yet...

...but when Mommy offered to help, he screamed his head off.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You can't find this family recipe anywhere else. Except that I just found it on google. I hate google.

Every Saturday from April until September under the warm sun of the Shenandoah Valley in central Virginia, you can find it. The delicious smells will beckon you from Interstate 81 and secondary roads from Augusta to Rockingham county and on into Harrisonburg...

Day 39- A picture of my favorite food.BBQ chicken. More specifically, BBQ chicken from the Shenandoah valley in Virginia.

According to my father, the recipe is derived from Rockingham Poultry, INC in Timberville. Supposedly my great-uncle Sam Crider, Jr. who worked in the office there had something to do with developing the recipe. This is my claim to fame, and it's not even technically mine, but I'll take it.

Apparently if you google "BBQ chicken Shenandoah valley" the recipe will come up. The recipe I have is a little different, but as long as your base is oil, apple cider vinegar, and tomato sauce, it will taste amazing. Make it for your next barbeque, then tell everyone you got the recipe from some random blog you read, only be sure to give them the web address so I can feel good about myself when I see I have more followers. I love followers... almost as much as Jesus.

Jen Crider Loizeaux's Freakin' Fabulous Favorite BBQ Chicken Recipe:

1/2 pt Wesson Oil
1 pt apple cider vinegar
1/2 pt tomato sauce
4 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/5th bottle Texas Pete

Note from my dad:
I place the raw chicken on the grill with the sides coated with sauce and keep it coated all the time. I think it might take about 1.5 hours to BBQ chicken legs and breasts, a bit less for wings. The fat in the skin really drips after a while and causes fire flare ups which can blacken and burn the chicken. Low temperature helps. Some folks boil the chicken first to get rid of the excess fat, but I've never tried that. A beer or two and a cigar helps pass the time.

Note from me:
Don't get the cigar butt in the chicken. The beer? No problem...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This post is dedicated to my high school sweetheart, not in a forlorn kind-of way, but because he has pictures of when I ACTUALLY looked cute!

Day 37- A picture taken at school.

I had nada, people. Nothing to show you. Which is kind-of ironic considering I have spent pretty much my entire freaking life at school, either as a student or a teacher. I know I have one lousy shot of me actually teaching my first year at Massaponax. I was 23 and had red, inflamed skin thanks to being allergic to food. I looked like an emaciated lobster. I'm pretty sure the picture was taken by a student who was attempting to blackmail me for a better grade. To ensure I kept my high moral standards as a teacher (and also to keep it out of the school paper), I smiled politely and allowed him to take the shot. The student then mysteriously disappeared, and my "Ashes of Problem Students" vase got a little heavier.

And who takes picture of themselves when they're IN school? Teenagers. But those pictures are buried in albums deep in the closet of my old bedroom at home.

I know I have a few shots of me at drunken parties at college, but here's hoping that those never surface, or my dreams of becoming a rep for my homeowners' association will go out the window. That was sarcasm. Which I was supposed to have given up for Lent....

So I had nothing to show for my 25+ years of public education. Then I check the comment section on my last post. Wouldn't you know... my ex from high school has old pictures. I found one of my old dachshund Alex. Then I checked the album, and holy crap!
I... was... YOUNG!!! Really young. I don't remember ever being that young.
And while I didn't get his permission, I'm hoping that Patrick isn't too upset. I mean, he made the mistake of giving me the link... And look at our HAIR!
I have no idea who took this picture of us at school, in what I suspect is my junior year of high school. But God bless them for making me smile.

And God bless Patrick for keeping the pictures.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's like having Edward Cullen as a pet, only prettier

A conversation I had last night in my head with my 15 year-old former self when I was plagued by insomnia and obsessing over today's picture challenge:

Me: So today on my blog I'm supposed to post a picture of my favorite pet, only I don't have a pet...
15 Year-old Me: What's a blog?
Me: Nevermind that. I don't think I've had a pet in a decade, so I need your advice.
15 Year-old Me: Wiener dogs!
Me: [sigh] I almost forgot about my brief but expensive dachshund obsession... Alex the Wiener Dog. Dumbest animal on the planet. You do know she ate her own excretion, right?
15 Year-old Me: We also have the cleanest yard on the street.
Me: You have a point.
15 Year-old Me: They are so CUTE! And anyway, you can dress them like hot dogs on Halloween...
Me: Original. You do know we're, like, deathly allergic to fur, right?
15 Year-old Me: ?
Me: Oh... right. That's 8 years in your future. How do you feel about snakes?
15 Year-old Me: ?!!
If you've read previous posts, you're aware of how much I like snakes. But this came gradually, mostly because I'm allergic to fur, feathers, mold, cleaning cages, and work in general which really limits my choices of pets. Then in my twenties I found THE perfect pet for me: corn snakes. Why corn snakes?

First of all corn snakes are great snakes for beginners like me. They are docile and could care less about whether you pick them up to play or if you leave them to their own devices for months at a time. They only eat once every 7-10 days which also makes them economical. They scare the crap out of Jehovah's Witnesses who might come to your apartment door at 8am on a Saturday morning when all you want to do is sleep for goodness sakes. And they come in pretty colors. Like flowers with fangs, only without the annoying, sneeze-inducing pollen. Or a vampire that just swallows mice every now and then and sticks its tongue at you as opposed to drinking your blood.

I named Severus Snake after my favorite Harry Potter character. He was sweet, as far as snakes go, and extremely clever. Like crazy clever. A million times smarter than the s**t-eating dachshund I had as a teenager.

During one of my spring breaks when I was teaching I decided not to bring Severus with me to Charlottesville. So I fed him a big, juicy mouse and put him back in his cage while I packed my bags. It was a new cage- larger than his previous one, with lots of space for him to move around. As I was packing I noticed him slithering up the glass walls. I didn't pay any attention to him until I saw Severus use his body to unlock the lid and then lift the top off with his nose. He slithered down to the table in triumph.

When he glanced my way, I could swear he was gloating.

Time for plan B.

I put Severus back in the cage, locking the lid securely. I then put 2 World History textbooks on top of the lid. Anyone who has ever had to suffer through history in high school knows how ridiculously thick those books are. Now imagine teacher editions. I put one on each side next to the locks on top of the cage, smiled smugly at outsmarting my pet reptile, and left for my parents' house.

When I came back 5 days later, I found the lid wide open with the textbooks still on top. There was no snake to be seen. I was devastated. Snakes like dark, damp, warm places to hide. Places where they can get trapped and die. I figured I would find a snake corpse somewhere near my washing machine in a few months time and be utterly traumatized.

But being the eternal optimist, I went around the apartment looking for Severus. I stomped my feet loudly as I walked since snakes can only sense vibrations. I went to the study where I stored his extra snake stuff in the closet, including a little Christmas tree I bought him (we've been over that fact that I need therapy, right?). Sure enough, there he was right next to his tree. Guess he likes Christmas. He saw me and slithered into my hands. We went back to using the smaller cage after that.

When I moved to Japan I was forced to give him away to a science teacher at my high school. I heard from former students that Severus got a lot of attention and enjoyed living at the school, constantly on display. I also heard that he escaped quite frequently... :-)